The lawyer for a teen who almost died after an NYPD sergeant shoved him through the glass window of a Bronx hookah bar has released video of the incident in an attempt to pressure prosecutors to reopen their criminal case. Sergeant Eliezer Pabon nearly killed then-14-year-old, 89-pound Javier Payne on May 17th, 2014 after arresting him and a 13-year-old boy inside the Hookah Spot on Arthur Avenue in Belmont on suspicion of punching a man.
The Daily News obtained the video below, which shows Pabon pacing near where another officer is holding Payne in cuffs facing the window. There is no sound, but something Payne said evidently enraged Pabon, who in the footage rushes over and slams him into the window. It explodes on impact.
The glass pierced Payne's lung, lodged in his windpipe, and took four hours of surgery and 50 stitches to patch up. Payne spent four days hospitalized. Charges against him were later dropped.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson declined to prosecute Pabon, in part because an expert determined the glass had a crack from an existing hole, and was not the shatter-resistant safety class required for commercial businesses. A report by Johnson's office cites Pabon and a witness saying that he did not intend to break the glass. The witness called it "a freak accident." Payne's lawyer Scott Rynecki said that's absurd.
"It's mind-boggling that the DA did not present the evidence to a grand jury," Rynecki told the News.
Rynecki is suing on Payne's behalf. Pabon has already been stripped of his gun and badge and found to have used excessive force by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Sergeants Benevolent Association lawyer Andrew Quinn told the News Pabon is set to have an administrative trial in early January. Quinn sounded unhappy that Rynecki had given a reporter a copy of the surveillance footage.
"We are surprised that plaintiff's counsel elected to provide the video to the press rather than wait for the appropriate trial forum to determine the merits of their case," he said, adding that the union is still "confident that Sergeant Pabon will be cleared of any wrongdoing."