The Occupy Wall Street demonstrator who was videotaped being punched by a police officer during a protest march Friday has lawyered up.
Felix Rivera-Pitre, who escaped after he was slugged in the face, has not yet been charged with a crime.
And his lawyer, Ronald Kuby, wants to keep it that way.
“On the off chance they were intending to arrest him for injuring the captain’s fist with his jaw, I strongly suggest that you decide not to add insult to injury and avoid such a retaliatory move,” Ron Kuby wrote to the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorneys office.
But NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in a statement that cops are looking to arrest Rivera-Pitre for attempted assault on a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Rivera-Pitre was “sucker-punched in the jaw with sufficient force to knock him to the ground,” Kuby wrote.
The officer – identified by police sources as Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona, 47 – should be charged with assault, Kuby insisted.
But Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman, said Rivera-Pitre provoked the confrontation by trying to elbow Cardona in the face – a blow the officer deflected.
“Others in the crowd jumped on the officer when he tried to apprehend the suspect,” Browne said. “When the officer got to his feet he was sprayed in the face with an unknown liquid coming from the suspect’s direction.”
Rivera-Pitre, a former dancer who lives at the YMCA in Jamaica, Queens, said he was walking on William St. with other protesters when he “shot the cop a look.”
“The cop just lunged at me full throttle and hit me on the left side of my face,” he told The Gothamist. “It tore my earring out.”
Rivera-Pitre said the crowd helped him get away but he was speaking out because there was lots of blood – and he is HIV-positive.
“That cop should get tested,” he said.