Video: NYC bar owner hits deputy with vehicle

The deputy sustained fractures in both his legs, officials said

By Kyle Lawson
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Video released Monday by the defense team for Staten Island bar owner Danny Presti shows the moment he struck a deputy sheriff with his Jeep after running from authorities.

In a statement released with the video, defense attorney Mark Fonte said it "clearly shows my client running for his life from unidentified individuals dressed in dark clothing."

"The Sheriff officers broke every proper procedure for effectuating an arrest ... if the Sheriff's Office is to continue in their new role as law enforcement, I urge the city to provide them with proper training."

New York City Sheriff Joe Fucito countered that narrative Monday, pointing to the fact the sheriffs were in uniform and that they identified themselves.

"We stand by the statements we made [Sunday]," Fucito said. "This matter will proceed in court where it will ultimately be resolved."

Richmond County prosecutors allege the officers called out Presti's name as they approached him on foot outside Mac's Public House in Grant City around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Presti ran to his vehicle, got inside and accelerated into the male officer, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint said Presti made two left turns onto Lincoln and North Railroad avenues with the sheriff on the hood of the vehicle before fellow officers surrounded the Jeep and placed Presti under arrest.

Law enforcement sources told the Advance/ and other media outlets the sergeant sustained fractures in both of his legs, a diagnosis Presti's attorneys addressed Monday at a press conference in front of the bar.

It's "an outrageous, outright lie," said defense attorney Lou Gelormino. "If he ran over a sheriff's deputy, they would have asked for half a million dollars in bail."

The tavern has made national news over the past week as it has defied state-mandated indoor dining restrictions due to the neighborhood being designated a micro-cluster orange zone. The area has ranked among the highest in coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rate across the five boroughs.

Presti was at the press conference Monday after being released Sunday on his own recognizance from Richmond County Criminal Court, St. George. He faces charges that include second-degree assault with intent to injure an officer; third-degree assault; first-degree reckless endangerment; unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle; menacing, and failure to obey a police officer.

At the press conference Monday, Presti — who was joined by his partner, Keith McAlarney — stated he had "nothing but respect for NYPD and law enforcement."

Conversely, Fucito said the bar owner's actions over the past several days made it clear "that he was not going to obey the law of city and state."

Fucito also cited civilian complaints in regard to the recent commotion outside the bar.

"The Sheriff's Office received numerous 311 complaints concerning the opening of the pub as well as media outlets displaying their opening. The pub was and still is under four separate orders prohibiting alcohol sales and public access."

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the series of incidents during his daily briefing Monday, saying Presti will "pay the price for his hypocrisy."

"I'm sure this guy is all in favor of law and order ... but guess what, law and order means when the state of New York says your bar needs to be closed, your bar needs to be closed — no excuses."

De Blasio said he plans to speak to law enforcement leadership, including the NYPD and the district attorney, to find out why Presti was released.

"I respect that the law enforcement system has a way of determining who gets released and who doesn't. But what I care about the most is that there are serious, serious charges and that this guy did something extremely dangerous and he needs to suffer the appropriate consequences for what he did," he said.

Continuing his attack on the Sheriff's Office on Monday, Fonte called them the " New York Jets of Law Enforcement."

Fucito said Monday he can't comment on other people's "attitudes or beliefs," but that the "[ Sheriff's Office] stands ready every day to preserve peace and public order, and enforce the laws even in the face of this type of danger."

(c)2020 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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