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Nassau prosecutors investigate arrest video

Bobby Hayes, who claims he was wrongfully arrested

Bobby Hayes, who claims he was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated, explains his story on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 in Rockville Centre at his attorney's office. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau prosecutors are investigating a man's claim that a video of his arrest contradicts police allegations that he resisted officers and used racial slurs.

The incident, near a Uniondale barbershop, also has sparked a police internal affairs probe.

William Petrillo, a lawyer for Bobby Hayes, 34, said Monday that his client spent nine days in jail after police "completely fabricated" charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Petrillo said he wants the case dismissed.

"Those allegations are blatantly false. But you don't have to accept Bobby Hayes' word for that. All you have to do is watch the video that was taken of this incident," the attorney said.

Petrillo said the video was made during Hayes' Jan. 29 arrest by someone from the barbershop, where his client is a regular patron. It appears to show Hayes, who has a prison record, allowing himself to be handcuffed without appearing to display the violent behavior police described in sworn court documents.

Petrillo said his client wouldn't give the police his full name at first and he believes that's what caused the police to escalate the incident. The court documents allege police were doing a drug investigation when they stopped Hayes, asking him for identification and "to explain his conduct." They go on to say Hayes began swearing and repeatedly refused to provide identification, as a crowd of elderly people and small children gathered.

The resisting arrest complaint alleges Hayes refused to stop his violent behavior, and used racial slurs and profanity, before swinging his arms and upper body, and pulling away from officers.

"The officers told the defendant numerous times to stop resisting arrest, but the defendant refused," police wrote.

Court records show police also charged Hayes with a violation of unlawful possession of marijuana. A complaint says police found a bag of what appeared to be marijuana in Hayes' pocket during a search.

"At no time does he use the language that was attributed to him. At no time is race ever injected into this. And at no time does he do anything that could even remotely be interpreted as resisting. There's no ambiguity to the tape. The tape speaks the truth," Petrillo said.

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice, confirmed that Petrillo shared the video with prosecutors Friday before both parties went to see a district court judge. The judge dropped Hayes' $20,000 bail and released him on his own recognizance.

"We requested that the defendant be released while we investigate the discrepancies between the video and the charging papers filed by police," Tarek said.

The complaints list officers Peter J. Ellison and Carl Arena as the arresting officers.

Nassau police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack said he couldn't comment because of an active internal investigation.

Police Benevolent Association president James Carver called Ellison and Arena great cops.

"They're responsible for arresting many individuals who wreak havoc on the community," he said.


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