A Brewster police officer caught on video angrily grabbing a man who wanted to file a complaint against him has been indicted on felony charges that he falsified claims to justify arresting the man.
Officer Fernando Quinones pleaded not guilty Thursday at his arraignment in Putnam County Court.
On Oct. 28, 2021, Quinones pulled Alexander King over for allegedly using his cellphone while driving.
King felt Quinones mistreated him and drove to police headquarters to file a complaint.
In the parking lot, Quinones confronted him, asking what King was doing there. King, who had begun recording with his cellphone, told him he was going to see his supervisor.
The video appears to show Quinones grabbing King by the neck and forcing him to the ground. It did not back up Quinones’ account that he included in the court documents charging King with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
The criminal charges against King were dismissed last month. Charges related to an arrest of King following a traffic stop by Quinones earlier that same month are also likely to be dismissed as early as Monday.
King, who testified before the grand jury, was elated to learn of the indictment Friday.
"It's awesome for me," he said. "For awhile I didn't think anything would come of it. We certainly wouldn't be talking now if I hadn't taken that video."
Police Chief John Del Gardo and Mayor James Schoenig could not be reached for comment. Both defended Quinones earlier this year based on what they described as King's aggressive reaction to being ticketed.
Quinones' lawyers, Andrew Quinn and John D'Alessandro, expressed disappointment with the indictment. Both have known Quinones for years, D'Alessandro as a colleague when both worked in the Yonkers Police Department and Quinn as the Yonkers PBA lawyer.
Quinn described him as a dedicated, well-respected cop who spent more than a dozen years as an emergency services officer, including time working at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"We do not see any criminal conduct whatsoever," Quinn said, regarding Quinones' description of the confrontation with King.
A lawsuit filed by King against Quinones and the village alleges excessive force by the officer in addition to wrongful arrest. The Quinones indictment does not accuse him of anything related to the physical confrontation.
He is charged with three counts each of: first-degree falsifying business records, offering a false instrument and making an apparently false statement, all felonies. He is also charged with one count of official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Quinones, 58, was released without bail and is due back in court Nov. 22. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of any of the felonies.
He joined the Brewster Police Department as a part-time officer in 2016, four years after wrapping up a 23-year career in Yonkers. He has been out on disability for months over an injury unrelated to the King case.
He is the second village cop arrested in the past year. Officer Wayne Peiffer pleaded guilty in April in Brooklyn federal court to accepting sexual favors in exchange for protecting sex traffickers who brought prostitutes to Brewster.
Staff writer Asher Stockler contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Police officer in Brewster indicted on false arrest charges