NEW YORK (PIX11) — An NYPD officer repeatedly punched a man after he asked cops to wear facemasks while they responded to a call about an autistic child in Manhattan last year, according to authorities and video of the incident obtained by PIX11 News.
Officer Christian Zapata, 36, was indicted Wednesday on an assault charge after punching the 43-year-old victim more than a dozen times in the hallway of an apartment building on Dec. 7, 2022, prosecutors said.
The victim “posed no immediate danger or physical threat,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.
Warning: This video may be disturbing to some
Authorities were called to the Harlem apartment to help the immunocompromised teen at around 7 p.m. When they arrived, the victim repeatedly asked the officers to put on facemasks, according to court documents and video of the incident. But the officers refused. At the time, it was department policy for cops to wear facemasks when working indoors, according to the complaint.
The victim then called 911 asking for a supervisor.
Prosecutors said Zapata, who was the highest-ranking officer at the scene, told the victim he was interfering with emergency responders and threatened to arrest him. Zapata told him “to back up,” the complaint said.
Another officer then escorted the victim down the hallway when he swatted the cop’s hand away. The officer then grabbed the victim’s wrists and restrained him before Zapata began beating him, according to authorities and the video.
Zapata punched the man in the face and head about 13 times during the nine-second attack, officials said. Two other cops had to pull Zapata away from him, the video shows.
The incident was filmed on NYPD body-worn cameras. Zapata was immediately suspended after the incident and demoted from sergeant to officer in August, authorities said. He was suspended without pay, according to the NYPD.
The cop pleaded not guilty and was released without bail during his arraignment Wednesday, according to court records.
Zapata’s attorney told PIX11 News:
Pursuant to his training, Sgt. Zapata physically engaged with Collins, striking him until he complied with the instructions of the officers…we are confident that he will be cleared of these meritless accusations.Zapata’s attorney
Mira Wassef is a digital reporter who has covered news and sports in the New York City area for more than a decade. She joined PIX11 News in 2022. See more of her work here.