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Charges Against NYC Councilman Dropped In Occupy-Related Arrest

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Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (credit: NYC.gov)

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (credit: NYC.gov)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against a city councilman accused of resisting arrest while trying to get to the former Occupy Wall Street encampment as police raided it last fall.

Manhattan prosecutors said they couldn’t prove the case against Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez because they didn’t have an account from a key figure — a female officer whom Rodriguez is accused of trying to push past at a police barricade near Zuccotti Park, according to a court complaint sworn out by another officer.

Rodriguez, a supporter of the Occupy demonstrations, said he was trying to get to the park to observe police clearing out protesters early on Nov. 15.

Authorities said he insisted on trying to pass through a barricade, knocked into the female officer and crossed his arms to try to keep from being handcuffed. Rodriguez, who had visible scrapes on his head when he was released that night, said officers had assaulted him.

“The dismissal of these charges is in line with what I have said from the beginning: that I was acting legally as an observer, which is my right as an elected official,” the Democrat said in a statement Wednesday. He had faced misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Michele Bayer told a judge that prosecutors had concluded there was “no evidence to corroborate” Rodriguez’ claims of being attacked and that his arrest was lawful.

Although she credited the officers involved in his arrest with acting professionally that night, she acknowledged that prosecutors don’t have testimony from one officer at the heart of the incident: the officer — unidentified in the court complaint — whom Rodriguez is accused of bumping.

“As we don’t have the testimony of this specific female officer, we cannot prove the charges against this defendant beyond a reasonable doubt,” Bayer said.

The DA’s office declined to say why that officer’s testimony wasn’t available. But Rodriguez’ lawyer had a theory.

“From the moment I saw an unnamed female officer in the complaint, it appeared to me to be a fiction,” said the attorney, Andrew Stoll.

Rodriguez, 46, was among about 200 people arrested in and around the park as police swept in that day. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’d ordered the encampment cleared out because of health and safety concerns. Protesters were later allowed back, but their tents, sleeping bags and other living accoutrements were not.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez represents parts of northern Manhattan.

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(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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