NBC 4 New York
Police say an Amtrak police officer punched a man so hard during a backyard brawl that the man landed in the hospital. The victim from Queens served a decade in the Marine Corps and now fears he's permanently injured -- and he wants the cop who allegedly punched him to lose his badge. Chris Glorioso reports.
An Iraq War veteran from New York City who landed in the hospital after an assault during a backyard party is calling for his alleged assailant to be fired from his police officer job at Amtrak.
The officer, William Gonzalez, was arrested July 5 and charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly knocked out Guillermo Balseca during a housewarming party on the deck of Gonzalez's Linden Avenue home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, police say.
Balseca, from the Woodhaven section of Queens, suffered bleeding and contusions around his brain after the fight with Gonzalez. Balseca says he and others attending the housewarming party had been drinking alcohol, but says there is no excuse for the level of violence that resulted in his brain injuries, now manifesting in constant short-term memory loss and reduced mobility of his left foot.
"I'm very angry," he said.
Balseca's fiance, Charlene Charriez, who was also at the party, said Gonzalez continued to attack Balseca after he was already unconscious.
"He could not breathe. He was making no signs of life," she said.
Balseca's sister Lucille Nowakowski said: "He served his country. He was in combat. He was able to survive that. And he comes here to his home where he is supposed to be safe, and this happens to him? It's unfair."
In an email, Amtrak spokesman Craig Shulz said Gonzalez has been put on paid desk duty and "has had his police powers suspended pending an internal review of the circumstances."
But Balseca and his family want the agency to go further.
"He needs to be permanently terminated. He needs to spend some time in prison," said Nowakowski.
Darren Gelber, a defense attorney for Gonzalez, suggested his client was justified in defending himself in the backyard fight. He his client has filed his own counter-complaint against Balseca with Woodbridge Police.
"Mr. Gonzalez believes he acted completely lawfully and he'll be exonerated," Gelber said.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office is evaluating the charges against Gonzalez.