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Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has announced that his office will not prosecute the NYPD officer who pepper-sprayed a group of women without provocation in a video that electrified social media during a September 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest.

Deputy Inspector Tony Bologna was disciplined by the NYPD for pepper-spraying two women who were caught behind mesh police netting during a demonstration in 2011. The department docked him ten vacation days and reassigned him to Staten Island, but the DA has decided there's not enough evidence, despite the well-circulated video and numerous photographs, to prosecute him on criminal charges.

“The District Attorney’s Office has concluded, after a thorough investigation, that we cannot prove these allegations criminally beyond a reasonable doubt," says Erin M. Duggan, chief spokeswoman for the Manhattan DA’s office. "We have informed the Police Department, the complainants, and the City of our decision.”

The DA has also decided not to prosecute Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona, whose unprovoked sucker-punch of Felix Rivera-Pitre (in green shirt in above photo) during an October 2011 protest was delivered in full view of the media and also widely circulated on video. Cardona was not disciplined by the NYPD at all.

Attorney Ron Kuby, representing victims in both cases, said in a statement, “Despite the overwhelming proof on videotape, seen around the world, Cy Vance has shown that he will do nothing to disturb his cozy relationship with the police, even in the face of the clearest wrongdoing.” Kuby condemned Vance for a “cowardly and despicable abdication of the most basic responsibility of the office,” and for taking “almost 19 months to decide to do nothing.”

Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, lauded Vance's decision, calling the slugging Cardona, “a true victim of the fiasco.”

Vance’s announcement, made late on a Friday afternoon while most of America’s attention was on the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, is bound to stump anyone who has seen the videos of the two incidents. Perhaps you really can’t believe your own eyes, as DA Vance appears to be telling us.

Lawsuits against the city, the NYPD and the police officers involved stemming from both incidents are pending.


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Originally posted to Richard Riis on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by New York City, Police Accountability Group, and Occupy Wall Street.

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