Police Brutality? Incident Saturday at Bread & Butter Deli

Police Brutality? Incident Saturday at Bread & Butter Deli

The familiar ping on my iPhone caught my attention, but it was Saturday. Some time off planned, but seeing the message, my mind went straight back to work. An apparent incident of police brutality had been captured on video.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Was it police brutality?

Police brutality is a fraught issue, these days, but we thought we were past it on Roosevelt Island. The days of mass protests in Good Shepherd Plaza were in the rearview mirror, although just barely.

A bizarre fire hydrant blockade, appearing to target the deli for harassment, was as stupid as it was eyebrow-raising, but roughing up a delivery driver inside is unprecedented.

“Hope all is well. Long time no speak,” the text started simply enough. “There was an incident at the deli today, with public safety and Frito Lays chips driver, my manager would like to tell you the story and has a crazy video.”

Bread & Butter Deli, the oldest surviving business on Roosevelt Island, does not normally call attention to itself. They’ve kept to themselves, even though RIOC’s Public Safety Department seems to have singled them out for harassment.

But soon, I also heard from the manager. “There was an incident involving PSD, and I was told to contact you.” And it was worse on video than described.

The shot is brief but cringe-worthy as three big officers surround and bully a small woman who they have backed against a refrigerated case.

“She’s a sweetheart, and she is so small.” She is, in fact, so small she can barely be seen behind the officers who encircle her.

“(Brian) Ortiz and (Barry) Hazelwood have to go,” the manager said. (He asked that his name not be used.)

“Is this the Frito Lay driver? Why were they arresting her?” I texted back, and his answer was sickening.

“Because she was parked illegally. She was packing my shelves, almost done.”

Four RIOC executives, including PSD Chief Keven Brown and Assistant Chief Anthony Amarosa, were contacted for comment. None responded even to acknowledge the contact.

Did they arrest her? I asked.

“I believe once the captain saw her and was baffled, they released her,” the manager said. But he had something to add. 

“To be honest, this is traumatizing, makes you fear the PSD instead of finding them welcoming.”

A track record…?  

This incident recalls another last year when a woman, also small, of Mexican ancestry was surrounded by Chief Brown and two large officers at his side. Her offense? Sitting on the Blackwell House steps, hoping to talk with troubled President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes. It was also caught on video. The victim, then, accused RIOC of racism, but as now, the state agency failed to respond to charges.

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