Afghanistan may be the most perilous assignment in journalism at the moment, but Manhattan ranks a close second, especially if your beat includes the lawless wilds between, say, Fifth and Madison avenues in the East 80’s.
Just ask Daniel Cronin, a New York Post photographer who was allegedly attacked on East 87th Street on Jan. 4 while he and Post reporter Mia Goldberg were on the Generosa Ammon beat. Ms. Ammon has been no stranger to the media since her multimillionaire financier husband, Ted, was found murdered in their East Hampton home on Oct. 22.
Mr. Cronin told the police that he and Ms. Goldberg had been staking out the 87th Street building since ten that morning. At 5 p.m. their patience paid off when Ms. Ammon–who had been involved in a messy divorce with her husband at the time of his demise, and who Suffolk County police have interviewed about the murder–left the building with an “unidentified” male who apparently felt protective toward Ms. Ammon.
As the two walked in the direction of Fifth Avenue, Mr. Cronin snapped away with his camera and Ms. Goldberg requested a statement. The fellow allegedly gave them one, though not in the verbal form the reporter undoubtedly would have preferred. Instead, he allegedly struck the photographer with his fist, smacking Mr. Cronin’s camera into his face, a maneuver that police said resulted in bruising and swelling and a small laceration to the 59-year-old photojournalist’s mouth.
The alleged attack also apparently marked the end of the interview, such as it was. At Lenox Hill Hospital, where Mr. Cronin was transported after the incident, the police conducted a more extensive interview with the photographer than he and Ms. Goldberg apparently had been able to manage with Ms. Ammon. Meanwhile, Ms. Goldberg joined other detectives as they canvassed the area for their assailant, with negative results. “We believe it was a totally unprovoked attack on our photographer,” Ken Chandler, the Post ‘s publisher, told The Observer , “and we are reviewing all of our legal options.”
Ms. Ammon’s lawyer, Michael Dowd, had no comment.
New Year’s Slugfest
There’s a certain tacky honor in being one of the first individuals arrested in a new year. For 2002, the honor was shared by several of the roughly 25 people whom the police observed having the mother of all brawls at 3:22 a.m. on Jan. 1 in front of David Copperfield’s, a bar at 1394 York Avenue.
The madness escalated when one of the responding officers tried to subdue a combatant with pepper spray and the “overspray,” as it was described, caused his partner to fall down and sustain a minor injury. While the officer who dispensed the aerosol was tending to his partner, two of the perps they were trying to apprehend (and who had been getting the better of a third male) took the opportunity to flee the scene.
They didn’t get very far. While their victim was transported to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center with a nose injury, the pair were stopped at 75th Street and the F.D.R. Drive by members of the 19th Precinct anti-crime team. Two witnesses positively identified the youths–both were 19, one from Northport, Long Island, the other from Plainview, N.Y.–and they were carted off to the station house and charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
Back at the scene of the brawl, other officers made the acquaintance of yet another sterling example of young American manhood: a 23-year-old Briarcliff Manor resident whom they described as not only “extremely intoxicated” but also “belligerent.”
The fellow apparently didn’t have anything nice to say about the cops either. A police captain who responded to the altercation reported that the same individual had approached him slightly earlier and, perhaps mistaking him for a member of New York’s “Bravest” rather than its “Finest,” asked the captain for help finding his lost jacket by stating, “Maybe you can help me ’cause I like the FDNY. I hate the police.”
This fellow then allegedly shoved one of the officers, prompting another M.O.S. (Member of Service, as the police refer to themselves in paperwork) to come to his colleague’s assistance. A third cop then grabbed the suspect and the two of them hit the pavement, where the suspect suffered a cut above his right eye.
One might have thought the incident would have seen its conclusion after the young ruffian was arrested for disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. But it didn’t.
The perp’s cousin, a 26-year-old female, who was no less proactive–and allegedly no more sober–than her relative, jumped one of the cops who was dealing with her cousin, prompting her arrest on the same charges.
Among the information the young man offered the police after he was eventually subdued (perhaps as part of a belated charm offensive) was that he was celebrating two holidays that evening. Not only was it New Year’s Day; it also happened to be his birthday. That, he explained, was the reason he was drinking heavily.
The cops didn’t give him a birthday cake. But they did courteously transport him directly to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center for the treatment of his wound. His cousin had to make due with the hospitality of the 19th Precinct’s arrest-processing room.