Cuomo, de Blasio blast Staten Island bar owner defying COVID restrictions after cop injured

ByDiana Rocco WABC logo
Monday, December 7, 2020
Leaders blast Staten Island bar; New video shows GM drive off with cop on car
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Kemberly Richardson has more on the newly released surveillance video showing a Staten Island bar general manager drive off with a cop on his car.

GRANT CITY, Staten Island (WABC) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio are blasting the bar owner who refused to comply with COVID restrictions after an officer was dragged on a car.

A rally that was initially planned Monday in support of the Staten Island bar was canceled out of respect for law and order and peace, an attorney said.

General manager Danny Presti was arrested over the weekend after allegedly driving off and injuring an officer. The arrest happened just after midnight Sunday when Mac's Public House in Grant City welcomed customers once again.

Shortly after midnight, officials say two deputies followed Presti to his vehicle after he left the bar. Two deputies identified themselves and approached Presti and attempted to take him into custody for multiple offenses.

Officials say Presti allegedly drove into one of the officers, who was thrown onto the hood of the vehicle.

Presti continued down South Railroad Avenue with the injured officer clinging to the hood of the vehicle. Sheriffs were eventually able to bring Presti's car to a stop after it traveled about 100 yards. The incident was caught on surveillance video.

The injured deputy was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was treated and released. Presti was arraigned Sunday on multiple charges, including assault, and released from police custody.

Some believe Presti has morphed into a celebrated critic for drawing a line in the sand when it comes to restrictions.

Mayor de Blasio does not agree with that.

"I think his actions are extraordinarily disturbing, I think they are disgusting, I think there's no excuse for someone doing something that might threaten a law enforcement officer, that's what he did. Our sheriff's deputy, his life was in danger because of what this guy did. It's absolutely unacceptable, he should pay very very serious consequences for what he did," de Blasio said. "I am always concerned we have to make sure consequences are clear. So I respect that the law enforcement system has a way of determining who can get released and who doesn't. But what I care about the most here, is that it be very clear, there are serious serious charges and this guy did something extremely dangerous and he needs to suffer the appropriate consequences for what he did."

Governor Cuomo also sounded off on the incident and reminded everyone that the bar sits in an orange zone. Staten Island is the borough that went from having the lowest death rate due to COVID-19 to the highest.

"A couple of primary New York values. One of them was, you don't assault a police officer. They are defending a person who drove his car into a law enforcement officer, drove 100 yards with a law enforcement officer clinging to the hood for his life and that's who they are championing. That's who they are championing. Someone who attacked a law enforcement officer. You don't attack the NYPD. You don't do it," Cuomo said. "They put their life on the line. You don't attack a law enforcement officer who is doing his or her job. And when you have someone who drives their car into someone, could have killed him. Hospitalizes him, how dare you, what signal are you sending, when you glamorize that type of behavior. Yeah, that's right, run over the police. What? What? Who says that? Who has ever said that? Well, we are not going to comply. Congratulations, you represented your people well. More have died. Go back and campaign. We went from the lowest death rate in the city to the highest death rate in the city because of my advice. Congratulations. Congratulations. It's repugnant to the values of any real New Yorker. You never assault a police officer."

Presti's attorney offered an explanation for his client, making a point they were not in uniform and did not identify themselves.

"Two big, burly officers came out from in between a parked car, behind him, and yelled, 'Presti! Hey, Presti!' And started running at him," said attorney Lou Gelormino. "That's what started the whole turn of events. It wasn't two officers in uniform, waving badges, saying, 'Hey, can we talk to you?' That's what started the whole event."

Gelormino also said the officers did not break their legs as some have claimed, but suffered what is more likely a torn ligament.

Presti also made a statement about his arrest on Monday.

"I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement. I think when you find at the end of the investigation, you will find that I did nothing wrong. I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement," Presti said.

Officers made the arrest after conducting surveillance on the bar, which had violated COVID restrictions multiple times.

Faced with going out of business, the bar stopped charging for food and drinks earlier in the week and kept doors open on a donation basis. The New York City Sheriff's Department arrested Presti earlier in the week, issuing huge fines of up to $50,000 and sparking massive protests in the streets.

WATCH | Newscopter 7 was overhead as hundreds gathered outside the bar later Wednesday night:

On Friday, the bar reopened and saw a crowd of about 100 people. Gelormino said the bar was open Saturday night, and that the tables were six feet apart, including on the patio in the back.

He also said all social distancing rules were being followed. However, that did not stop authorities from shutting the bar down once again.

Eyewitness News interviewed Presti shortly before his arrest.

"We're struggling and a lot of people in these businesses have lost a lot and in the beginning, we were OK to sacrifice, and we've sacrificed everything at this point," Presti said. "You have to take care of us, the government is supposed to be there to protect you and that's the opposite of what's happening here."

Staten Island has seen increased cases of COVID in recent weeks.

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