LOWER EAST SIDE, NY (PIX11)—A rap group's album launch party at Tammany Hall on the Lower East Side turned violent Tuesday night and clubgoers are saying it was clear case of police brutality
"We didn't come with violence on our minds, it's our release day," said rap artist Pete Rock, of the popular rap group Smif-N-Wessun.
Just after midnight the fun turned sour when a small scuffle broke out towards the front of the venue and police were called. Pete Rock said the fight didn't seem to cause a problem, but when he looked into the crowd he noticed police using force.
"I seen two cops pull their billy clubs out and just hit a motionless body," said Rock.
Pete Rock and his group member, General Steele, recalled jumping in front of the stage and running towards the street to help his wife and daughter. Rock said he ran into Orchard Street where he witnessed officers beating people.
"They were the apes, not us; the police were acting out," said Rock.
Five people were eventually taken into custody including fan Cynthia Rosa, who got tossed in jail for assaulting an officer. Rosa said she was just trying to help her boyfriend who was being beaten up.
"He was bleeding on the ground, helpless, cops were beating him. You don't understand what it's like. I really thought he was going to die," said Rosa.
But the NYPD told a different story about what happened that night. Officers described an unruly, rowdy and aggressive crowd that attacked them.
Police told PIX that 30 rowdy fans began causing a commotion in front of the club once the concert ended, throwing just about anything they could find in the street. The bar brawl sent five officer to the hospital to be treated for lacerations and in one case, a broken tooth.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said: "Police officers had every right to defend themselves against individuals assaulting them and used appropriate force in doing so.' They also protected civilians who were being pelted by bottles at the onset, as they responded to the location at the request of their own security."