After Rap Concert Melee, Both Sides Point Fingers

Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 7:37 PM EDT
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Weird News Photos: Holiday Edition

Gabriel Diaz, one of the concertgoers who says police used excessive force, leaves court after being arraigned on charges of assault, resisting arrest and rioting.

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Beaten Concertgoer Set Free

Gabriel Diaz, who claims to have been beaten by police after attending a rap concert on the Lower East Side, was released without posting bail. He claims police attacked him outside the Tammany Hall nightclub.
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Concertgoers who attended a rap show on the Lower East Side where a melee erupted with police, injuring five officers, said the NYPD used excessive force in the disturbing incident.

Authorities, meanwhile, say some concertgoers refused to disperse after police tried to close down the venue. Five people were arrested, including Jade Everette, the daughter of DJ and rapper Pete Rock.

The show Tuesday night was to celebrate the launch of "Monumental," the new album by rap group Smif N Wessun. Parts of the chaos after police arrived were captured on video and posted online.

The NYPD says officers received a 911 call about a dispute at the Tammany Hall venue. Witnesses say the lights turned on in the middle of the show and dozens of NYPD officers entered the room and began telling people to leave.

Buckshot, a founding member of the rap group, was on stage. He said police sprayed mace on the concertgoers and everyone inside ran for the exits because they were overwhelmed by the spray. 

"We ran out any way we could," said Buckshot. "And when we got outside, we saw dozens of officers waving their batons."

Gabriel Diaz, one of the five people arrested, had eight staples in two lacerations on his head, and left court Thursday wearing a neck brace.

He said he had been trying to leave the area, but was being forced in a direction where mace was sprayed.

"I didn't want to go that way, for obvious reasons," he said. As he refused, he said, "another officer approached me and hit me."

Diaz was charged with second-degree assault, first-degree riot and resisting arrest, among other charges. Police said he swung his fist at a female police officer and struck her in the face, before striking two other officers who were attempting to arrest him, breaking one officer's nose.

Everette was charged with second-degree assault, first-degree riot and resisting arrest. Police say she punched a police officer in the head, and flailed her arms to avoid being handcuffed. Another woman arraigned Thursday was accused of grabbing an officer around the neck and scratching his face.

The NYPD says five officers were injured during the incident. One had cuts on his neck, cheek and elbow, one had a broken nose, one had a broken tooth, another had contusions to his head and face and a fifth officer suffered contusions to his head.

"Police officers had every right to defend themselves against individuals assaulting them, and used appropriate force in doing so. They also protected civilians who were being pelted with bottles at the outset, as they responded to the location at the request of the club's own security," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Smif N Wessun's record label said in a statement that the officers were the ones who acted inappropriately, including dragging people out of the club, and "pummeling" one person outside.

"The officers then began to mace and assault anyone within arms length, including several women," the label said.

Pete Rock said at the courthouse on Thursday that his daughter, 24, was "shaken up."

"She's never experienced anything like this," he said.

Police say that, although they were initially called to the venue for a dispute, once they arrived they determined there were too many people inside and told security the building had to be evacuated.

Cops say a 36-year-old man who attended the concert refused to leave, became unruly and punched an officer in the face, chipping the officer's front tooth.

Police say that individual solicited help from other concertgoers as they were trying to arrest him. That action, police say, incited a frenzy and caused others to become unruly.
 

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