By George Capsis
Late in the evening of Wednesday, August 14, we received an email from a 53-year-old woman who had been punched in the face by a bare-chested African American man, at approximately 8.40 p.m. while walking her dog on 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Her complaint was that the six officers who responded to the 911 calls made by witnesses to the attack were unsympathetic and abrupt, refusing to take a report of the incident or a description of the assailant from the several eyewitnesses to the attack, who advised the responding officers that the assailant was still on 14th Street.
On Friday, August 23 we learned by phone of another female victim, aged 84, who was hit near 8th Street and Greenwich Avenue around 8:30 pm. She called 911 who arrived promptly and took her to the 6th precinct on 10th Street where she was treated well and brought to the Northwell urgent care facility on 13th Street and 7th Avenue for examination and treatment.
Earlier that Wednesday, Dusty Berke witnessed the attacker on the number one subway train in a state of intense rage with clenched fists.
Early on Friday, August 24, we received an email from the Daily News asking if we had any information. Around noon the same day, WABC met Dusty in front of 69 Charles and asked for the name and telephone number of victim two (Dusty had the information but complied with the request of the victim and withheld it). The perpetrator appeared on the evening news. A little while later Corey Johnson’s Chief of Staff Erik Bottcher emailed me about his arrest.
Also on August 24, the police finally decided to make a report of the August 14 incident, which they had initially refused to record.
The police had arrested the suspect, Todd Lyons, for two assaults on Friday, August 16, not yet connecting them to the other six or seven reported assaults. He was arraigned and released on bail. The police finally realized the many assaults were by the same assailant, and characterized them as hate crimes, asking the public for help in identifying the assailant. A counselor then identified Mr. Lyons as a resident of the homeless shelter at which he lived. What follows is a letter sent to WestView from one of the victims:
…I was out walking my dog, looking down. Out of nowhere I saw a fist in my face and then was punched hard in the face and knocked down onto the pavement onto a recycling bag of glass on the ground. Several people approached me to help and also telling me they had witnessed the guy assaulting me and had his description. Then the guy came back and started yelling “Go ahead. Call the police. I will be right here.” He was wearing red pants, was bare chested and was a black male. I didn’t see him, but several eye witnesses did. Two witnesses called 911. Six officers responded. They stood in the roadway, hands on their hips and yelled at us. One witness was on the phone and a cop (no older than 22 years old) asked who he was calling. The witness responded “911.” The officer aggressively yelled at him to hang up. So, there I am, very disoriented and bleeding. Witnesses are trying to tell the officers the description and location of the assailant, and the cops have no interest at all. They asked if I wanted an ambulance. I said I didn’t know. The young officer put his hands on his hips and yelled at me. “What do you want me to do for you?!!” The witnesses responded: “Go look for the guy. Take his description.” The cops refused and drove away.
This was devastatingly upsetting to me and those around me. The cops did not take the assailant’s description and did not give me their cards or anything. All six of them left together without taking down one word of information. I got home and called the 6th precinct and asked to speak to a sergeant. I waited on hold for ten minutes. Finally, a cadet named Muyin got on the phone and said “Maam, so you refused medical attention and now what do you want me to do?!”
This psycho is now walking around and the cops didn’t take his description or attempt to follow him (he was right at the corner, according to witnesses) What are you guys doing to keep us safe??
Thanks for anything you can do to help me and my neighbors.