New Rochelle officer pleads not guilty in attempted assault case
Dozens of police officers from across Westchester came to support a New Rochelle detective facing a misdemeanor attempted assault charge.
Michael Vacarro entered a plea of not guilty and was given 45 days to file a motion after an incident in February.
Officials say a man, Malik Fogg, was having a dispute with his mother at a gas station on Main Street when he noticed Vaccaro recording him.
The Westchester District Attorney’s Office says Vaccaro called New Rochelle police and reported that the man was going after him.
Police arrived and tried to arrest Fogg, but Vaccaro allegedly hit him three times and kicked him before pressing his face into the ground even when the officer already had Fogg in custody.
Officials say Vaccaro was given 30 days' unpaid leave for inappropriate behavior after the incident.
The New Rochelle Police Department then referred the case to the DA’s office.
The decision to charge Vaccaro has caused division between the DA’s office and the police union.
In a statement, the DA’s officer says, “As we do in all cases, we reviewed the facts, evidence and the law with a team of experienced career prosecutors and investigators and determined that misdemeanor charges were warranted in this case.”
New Rochelle PBA President Christopher Greco says he is confident that the off-duty officer acted appropriately.
Greco says the relationship between the PBA and the DA can be repaired or broken, depending on the actions of the DA.
“She could acknowledge that this wasn’t a criminal act, that he was acting in self-defense,” Greco says. “It’s an individual that was out-of-control, attacking his mother, resisting arrest and it was unknown during the entire encounter if he was armed or unarmed.”
Vaccaro will return to court on Sept. 10.