What to Know
Michael Divers, 52, died after an altercation with two other men outside an NY beach club on Aug. 28, 2015
Police had said he crashed a Sweet 16 party, got into a fight with two other dads and had a heart attack
His family wasn't satisfied with the official account and hired private investigators; now graphic surveillance video has surfaced
Graphic surveillance video has surfaced nearly two years after the controversial death of an attorney in Centerport, Long Island, after a scuffle.
The video shows the altercation between 52-year-old Michael Divers and two men on the evening of Aug. 28 2015, outside the Huntington Beach Community Association, where Divers and his family were members.
Kristen Divers said her husband left the beach to use the restroom in the clubhouse; she says that was the last time she saw him alive.
Suffolk police had said Divers crashed a Sweet 16 party in the clubhouse, started harassing teenagers and suffered a heart attack after a confrontation on the patio with two fathers. Dissatisfied with the official accout, the dead man's family had two private investigators to look into the case.
The surveillance video was obtained from a private source; Suffolk police had not given it to the family. The footage spans 45 minutes, from the moment Divers is seen walking through the clubhouse to the time medical crews transport him to the hospital.
At the beginning of the video, Divers casually walks by several teens sitting at a table. No one appears to pay him any attention.
Three minutes after Divers is seen in the clubhouse, the video shows him on the patio in a confrontation with two men. Divers, who is repeatedly pushed, keeps getting up. At one point, he falls over a brick wall, hitting his head.
The two men then pin Divers to the ground and sit on him for 14 minutes, according to the video.
“You can clearly see he’s not aggressive. He’s not fighting back,” said private investigator Yael Rom. “They’re riding him like a pony.”
Ten minutes into the video, Divers appears to stop moving completely. The men remain on top of him. When they eventually get off, he is left on the ground alone for 9 additional minutes while the party continues. Finally, a woman appears, checks his pulse and attempts CPR. Pictures the family later provided showed his face had been badly bruised.
John Divers, who saw the video for the first time in early July, said he believes his brother was murdered.
"I’m flabbergasted. I don’t even know what to tell you. I’m watching my brother get killed," he said.
Asked about the video, the Suffolk County district attorney's office reiterated the initial police account.
“Mr. Divers entered a Sweet 16 party being held at a beach club in Centerport and was described by onlookers at the party as 'highly intoxicated' when he arrived," spokesman Robert Clifford said in a statement. "He had not been invited to the event, yet he entered the food- ine and was questioned by people at the affair as to his identity. He was asked to leave; he refused, and was escorted out, while struggling with two fathers attending the party with their families."
The statement continued: "The same two men who escorted him out of the beach club encountered him a second time in the patio area where Mr. Divers tried to re-enter the party. A physical confrontation ensued. Mr. Divers was knocked to the patio surface and got up a number of times during this altercation. Police were called while Mr. Divers was held down on the patio. CPR was started on Mr. Divers when he suddenly lost consciousness, a defibrillator was brought to the scene and an off-duty nurse worked unsuccessfully to revive Mr. Divers. A Suffolk Grand Jury listened to testimony and reviewed evidence in this case from April 4 through April 14 of last year and vote a 'no true bill,'" which means a refusal to indict.
The family has now filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the two men involved in the altercation and several Suffolk County entities. All of the named parties have denied the allegations in court papers.
The family asked nationally known forensic pathologist Dr. Jonathan Arden, to review the video and the autopsy report issued by the Suffolk County medical examiner's office, which determined the cause of death to be "cardiopulmonary arrest during a physical altercation in individual under the influence of acute alcohol intoxication."
Arden said he was "frankly horrified" when he saw the video.
"It shows you in real time these people killing Mr. Divers. It confirmed my conclusion the ME reached the wrong conclusion," Arden said. "In my opinion the cause of death should have been certified as asphyxia due to torso compression of two men sitting on him while prone on the ground."
Family attorney Abe George said, "We believed from the beginning there was a cover-up. Now we know it.”