No charges in pepper-spraying protesters

A still image from a Youtube video posted

A still image from a Youtube video posted by a blogger. (Credit: YouTube)

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has decided not to prosecute the NYPD commander caught on a notorious Internet video clip pepper-spraying a group of young women with no obvious cause during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests.

Lawyer Ron Kuby, who represents a woman who was pepper-sprayed, disclosed the DA's decision Friday afternoon to not charge Dep. Insp. Anthony Bologna. He was also told that Dep. Insp. Johnny Cardona, another commander caught on video in an apparently unprovoked assault during the protests, won't be charged.

"No reason was given," Kuby said in a statement condemning Vance for a "cowardly and despicable abdication of the most basic responsibility of the office."

"Despite the overwhelming proof on videotape, seen around the world, Cy Vance has shown that he will do nothing to disturb his cozy relationship with the police, even in the face of the clearest wrongdoing," Kuby said.

The incidents occurred in October 2011 and gained worldwide attention through YouTube and a "Saturday Night Live" skit mocking Bologna. Vance for more than a year has said publicly only that criminal charges were "under review," but Friday his office confirmed the decision.

"The district attorney's office has concluded, after a thorough investigation, that we cannot prove these allegations criminally beyond a reasonable doubt," said press secretary Erin Duggan.

Lou LaPietra, a lawyer for the NYPD Captains Endowment Association representing both Bologna and Cardona, praised the decision. "The events were very chaotic, and these officers were acting the best they could under very violent circumstances not all of which were portrayed on YouTube," LaPietra said.

The YouTube video showed Bologna reaching over a plastic fence and aiming pepper spray at a group of women standing inside. Vance's office declined to detail why it wasn't an assault, but a law enforcement source said the "chaotic scene" and events before and after the YouTube snippet raised doubts about criminality.

Bologna was docked 10 days pay and transferred to Staten Island after the incident, and the city has refused to represent him in civil suits. But Vance's decision will clear the way for the city to represent Cardona, LaPietra said.

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