At least one officer from the 61st Precinct may be under investigation after surveillance video shed doubt on his arrest of a Sheepshead Bay resident for allegedly trying to run him over.
Three days after he was locked up, John Hockenjos, a 55-year-old East 23rd Street resident, was released on bail last week and his lawyer said his client was falsely arrested and has videotaped evidence of the altercation to prove it.
Hockenjos’ attorney, Craig Newman, told Sheepshead Bites that he had turned copies of the tape over to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, as well as the NYPD Internal Affairs unit.
While many Brooklynites were getting ready to watch the Super Bowl on February 5, Hockenjos, who is employed by the MTA, was arrested and charged with first and second degree reckless endangerment and reckless driving after police at the scene claimed he attempted to run them over with his car as they stood in his driveway.
The sworn criminal complaint states that Hockenjos drove into his driveway “at a high rate of speed,” which forced Officer Diego Palacios “to jump out of the way to avoid being hit” by the four-door sedan.
The problem is surveillance video from Hockenjos’ home suggests Hockenjos did no such thing.
The video shows Hockenjos slowly pulling into the driveway and stopping several feet away from the officers. Hockenjos and his wife get out of the car to talk to the police. The officer did not budge, as he had claimed.
In the full video, not shown above, Hockenjos begins to unpack his car when another police car shows up. Officers eventually handcuff Hockenjos, though no indication of aggression or reckless driving is seen on the tape.
“In my 20 years of legal experience, I’ve never seem more crystal clear evidence of a false arrest.” Newman told the Daily News.
The police were originally summoned by neighbor Argo Paumere, with whom the Hockenjos’ have had an ongoing property dispute. The police are seen talking with Paumere when the Hockenjoses arrived.
Hockenjos and his wife, Irena, 51, have lived in their house for 14 years, but trouble started two years ago when Argo Paumere moved next door. According to Newman, Hockenjos’ driveway includes a two-foot easement that has become an ongoing feud between the homeowners.
Newman said Paumere has wanted to build a larger house since he moved in and has repeatedly asked Hockenjos to give up the small section of driveway. Hockenjos has refused and the lawyer said it has resulted in numerous calls to the 61st Precinct and his client being “dragged into court numerous times,” stemming from several harassment complaints filed by Paumere.
“But each case has been dismissed,” Newman said, so the dispute persists.
Newman declined to allow Sheepshead Bites to interview the couple citing the “pending criminal matter.”
Hockenjos faces seven years in prison if the charges are not dismissed. Newman said the next court appearance is scheduled for August, but the District Attorney’s office could bring the case back to court sooner if they decide to dismiss it after analyzing the videotape.