NEW YORK — New surveillance video provided to NY1 by a lawyer for Danny Presti appears to show the moment that the general manager of Mac's Public House struck a sheriff's deputy with his car over the weekend.
The sheriff's office said Presti hit a deputy early Sunday morning while a team was trying to serve new summonses for continued violations of coronavirus restrictions.
Surveillance video provided by Mark Fonte, one of Presti's attorneys, to NY1, which he says shows the incident, shows two men approaching Presti's vehicle. Presti is then seen driving off while the two men are trying to access his car. One of the men is seen on the hood of his car as he drives off.
Fonte says the video shows that Presti was "running for his life from unidentified individuals dressed in dark clothing" and that the sheriff officers "broke every proper procedure for effectuating an arrest."
"Also, let's not lose sight of the fact that this whole incident was over the illegal serving of a hamburger and a beer," he added.
According to Fonte, the two sheriff officers were in plainclothes in the video, but the criminal complaint says the officers were in uniform.
With Presti facing a slew of charges, including reckless endangerment and assault, Mac’s Public House is closing for now. The bar says it needs to reassess its options, but vows the fight is not over and that it will reopen.
Presti was arrested and released Sunday without bail and gave a brief comment at a news conference in Grant City on Monday.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for the NYPD and law enforcement," he told reporters. "I think when the investigation is complete, you will find that I did nothing wrong."
With rising COVID-19 rates on Staten Island, the restaurant is located in an orange zone. Those additional restrictions prohibit indoor dining.
Presti's lawyer says the restrictions aren't fair because the orange zone ends only blocks away and businesses beyond the boundary don’t face similar restrictions.
A small group of protesters, many of them familiar faces from last week’s rallies supporting the Staten Island business in its fight against the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, gathered outside the bar Monday night to show solidarity with Presti.
The mayor and governor addressed the issue Monday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the situation as repugnant, and Mayor Bill de Blasio called Presti’s behavior "extremely dangerous."
"You don't assault a police officer," said Cuomo. "They are defending a person who drove his car into a law enforcement officer. Drove 100 yards with a law enforcement officer clinging to the hood for his life, and that's who they're championing? That's who they're championing? Someone who attacked a law enforcement officer. You don't attack the NYPD. You don't do it. They're putting their lives on the line. You don't attack them. It's disgusting and a coward."
"The most important thing is what this guy did," said de Blasio. "And it was absolutely unacceptable. I’m sure this is a guy who would say he’s all in favor of law and order… He's making a big deal about what’s happened to his bar. Well, 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 to protect people’s health and safety, no excuses. And when you violate the law, there will be consequences. And then if you take an action against a law enforcement official, there are more consequences. So, this guy is a hypocrite, and he’s about to pay the price for his hypocrisy."
While the deputy was part of the sheriff’s department and not the NYPD, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told NY1 Tuesday that he hopes there aren’t any serious injuries.
“We’ve had that happen multiple times to NYPD officers, it’s extremely dangerous,” said Shea. “I can tell you from a law enforcement perspective that is an extremely dangerous circumstance.”
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