Reader Report: Smackdown on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights

This dispatch just in from a BHB reader:

Morning – have you received any video or photos of the fracas in front of Duane Reade at Court/Joralemon last night? It was around 6:30, right as I was walking off the train, and there was a fair crowd gathered. 4 women beating the sh*t out of some guy behind a parked car right in front of the store. Called the cops, they had two patrol cars there by the time I got off the phone with the dispatcher. Was curious if there were any details/followups/injuries. There was a pretty good crowd (at least 30-40) and I definitely saw people holding their phones up and videoing.

Anyone see “citizen reports” on “the social media” today? Post below!

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  • Mr. Crusty

    He probably made a comment about their double wide strollers.

  • Willowtowncop

    Because its so much more important that your cellphone video might go viral than to help someone who might be getting hurt.

  • Teddy

    @Mr. Crusty

    Good one.


    Welcome to today’s sad reality where it’s better to record than to help.

  • AmyinBH

    Why can’t the animalistic gene that makes people watch violence get out of the human gene pool after all these centuries?

  • Monty

    @AmyinBH, I feel the same way, but at the same time I just love NFL Football. I also bemoan the Bystander effect that prevents people from helping.

  • C.


    Would you honestly recommend that someone inject themselves into a vicious fight, in which the focus of these 4 women’s rage can quickly be turned onto you? Who knows what weapons they might have had. This wasn’t a one on one fight. This sounds like a wolf pack beating — the type that are over on W. 4th street if you holler at the wrong girl. And couldn’t that cell phone video be used as vital evidence?

  • Mr. Crusty

    I think I am in agreement with C on this. One has no idea what precipitated the fight and what all the relevant circumstances might be for a civilian to get involved in the middle of a fight involving five people.

    Of course one should call 911, which apparently is what happened and yes even video record the incident – not to get a viral video on youtube but perhaps to assist the police in their subsequent investigation and to insure the victim (whomever that might be) gets justice.

    Again, each circumstance is different and should be evaluated on its own merits but I’m not so quick to condemn untrained civilians (I’m retired law enforcement) from jumping into violent situations such as this.

  • Eddyenergizer

    Yeah its a tricky call, getting involved in a street fight. One night back in the eighties, I came upon a guy beating up his wife. it was pretty bad closed fist punching and blood. She was trying to fight him off but he was too powerful. I jumped in, I tried getting the guy in a hold to break it up but he slipped out of it and took a swing at me, I hit him then managed to get him on the ground and pin him down. The next thing I know, the woman jumps on my back and starts to choke me screaming “get off my husband”… Somehow I broke free and got back far enough that it broke the momentum and they came to their senses. They both seemed very embarrassed and ultimately apologized & thanked me… The episode made me realize, although I was trying to be a hero the victim didn’t see it that way. I was lucky, if they both kept at me I would have been beaten pretty bad.

  • Jorale-man

    Yikes, @Eddy…

    That corner is a real disaster zone. I don’t know what it is – maybe the mix of the subway entrances, the street vendors and the three-way traffic – but it’s easily the most unpleasant intersection around Brooklyn Heights. I try to avoid it at all costs.

  • julian

    Two vignettes from a not-at-all-tough guy. As a very young, skinny guy on a very tough block in Manhattan, E 14th St and Third Ave, I came upon a young tough beating on an older guy. I stood a little back and shouted: “If you don’t stop that I’m calling the cops!” I went to a pay phone and pretended to call, though it was so long ago there wasn’t even a 911 to dial. The young guy ran off. Period.

    As an older guy,many years lateron the Lexington Ave Local, I watched as a young, tough looking Asian guy punched an older guy in the nose making him bleed, of course, as they entered the train. there was a young Asian woman with them. All the cowards cowered and slunk off the the next rain, crowding around the door to watch. I sat there and shouted the same thing, making sure not to hold the younger guy responsible: “You guys better stop right now!” Is all I said. They stopped. I was close to sixty and slender. As the train started up again, the young guy punched again. Again, I shouted that I would call the police (absurdly, since the train was in motion). The young guy turned to me and shouted: “call the police, call the police!” But at that point I knew he was through! If you’re reasonably motivated by compassion & empathy, you can stop a fight.

  • Gerry

    @ C I am with you not a good idea to jump into a street fight

  • Wiley E.

    @ Eddy. Domestic violence is the worse. They will both beat on you for separating them. It is a loose, loose all around. Some times they just want and deserve the beating they give each other. Love stinks.

  • Willowtowncop

    Citizens get involved all the time and chase purse snatchers and break up bar fights, etc. I’m not sure what training you think cops have regarding how to break up street fights but I promise you it’s pretty much none aside from don’t let the gun pop out of your holster. Its a question of willingness to intervene. Screaming that the cops are coming or just pulling people apart is usually enough – did I not read that there were 30-40 people there? How would you like it if someone you loved was being beaten by four people and dozens of your neighbors did nothing but film the action? I promise it wasn’t for evidence either as suggested above because the type of people who don’t want to risk a booboo pulling a woman off of someone aren’t the type of people who will be thrilled to let the cops voucher their fancy cell phones as evidence.

    I’m glad some of you weren’t on flight 93.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Right Willowtowncop this was flight 93.

  • hicksanthrope

    @Wiley E. “Lose Lose”

  • Mr. Crusty

    I think any responsible law enforcement agency would advise citizens not to try and get involved in trying to break up a fight involving 5 people. It is absurd for Willowtowncop to suggest otherwise. You can not possible control that many individuals i dont care how physically fit you are or how trained you may be.

    Willowtowncop I don’t know where you were/are a cop but it would be amazing if you didn’t receive, like I did, extensive training on how to deal with violent individuals, training in conflict management, training in physical combat, training on how to physically restrain individuals etc. That plus they give us all kinds of weapons to deal with such incidents, billy clubs, black jacks, mace, tasers and handcuffs. I would hate to have entered into a 5 person fight with nothing but my house keys.

    Call the police and yes, video the incident if possible, that would be the wisest course of action. Let Willowtowncop play the hero if he wishes, that is not your obligation in such a situation. One on one fight maybe, four on one, that is just stupid and dangerous.

  • Willowtowncop

    It wasn’t four on one, there were 30-40 people there.

    Where did you work Mr. Crusty? I am NYPD and if you went to an academy that was better than ours, I’d like to know where. We did a few days of boxing in the gym and a few days of wrestling, neither with any equipment on. You can’t sit in a classroom and learn what you can from veteran cops in a busy precinct, which is one of the reasons for the impact program.

    How would you do it, exactly, if you’re so well trained, besides grabbing people and pulling them off? That’s the way we do it, and works remarkably well. If you were such an expert you would know that you don’t fire a taser or “mace” (I’ve never heard a cop call OC spray mace before) into a crowd where you might hit the victim, and city cops don’t have tasers anyway. We also don’t have black jacks or carry “billy clubs” – only asps, which I would hope any cop that’s been in a street fight or two would know does nothing but make a scary noise and look good for the video that the perp’s friend is shooting and will later edit before screaming police brutality and sending it to the news.

    It’s totally unbelievable to me that someone who’s such an expert on law enforcement would encourage people to stand by and do nothing while someone was getting hurt. Is there a point where you would intervene? If the victim were elderly, or disabled, or a child?

  • Mr. Crusty

    Willowtowncop there is so much wrong with your post it is hard to know where to start.

    1) cops receive training for dealing with such situations, I don’t even know why you are denying this obvious fact and yes, on the job training breaking up fights on a regular basis is all part of developing those skills.

    2) “grabbing people and pulling them off? That’s the way we do it, and works remarkably well”. You were a cop. In uniform. With a gun. With the ability to arrest. You think it would work as well for a civilian! How delusional are you. Most people give some difference to the uniform that would not be given to civilians

    3) in my department (not NYPD) we called it mace and yes we used it all the time in violent situations where the subject refused to comply

    4) don’t know about tasers as that was after my time but we certainly carried jacks and it was a great comfort to have that in my back pocket when dealing with a violent person. I’m not saying we use or should use these weapons in every fight but we all know we have these tools to help us if needed. Civilians have none of that. No training, no weapons, no authority, no uniform, no arrest powers. etc. Makes a big big difference now doesnt it?

    5) there were five people fighting. I don’t care how many are in the watching crowd. Do you think the watching crowd is going coalesce into a team to jump into action en masse?

    6) the crowd did do something. They called the police. That is their responsibility and the police arrived rather quickly from the report. It was a fist fight, they weren’t beating him with 2×4’s.

    7) don’t give me what ifs, the male involved wasn’t a child or elderly or disabled. And quite frankly we don’t even know he was the “victim” do we? You said before that citizens chase purse snatchers maybe this guy was trying to steal one of the women’s purses? You want a what if, what if he tried to abduct one of the women’s children? Do you have any idea who is the good guy and who is the bad guy walking up to a,situation like this? What if the male had a weapon and in pulling off the women he now has an opportunity to use that weapon?

    It is totally unbelievable to me that you thinkit is a slam dunk for untrained citizens to get involved in a five person fight when the police are in their way.

    I like this advice:

    DO NOT TRY TO BREAK UP A FIGHT UNLESS IT IS YOUR JOB (i.e bouncer, cop, teacher, etc). You will get hurt, or distract one of the fighters causing him to sustain a serious hit, or otherwise make the situation worse. Go ahead and read any number of newspaper articles about people who get maimed and killed trying to “break up fights”. If you see a fight, just watch and stay out of it. If a friend of yours is in a fight, either let him fight his battles or jump in and help him, do NOT grab him and try to stop the fight, you will cause your friend to get hit and he will be unable to retaliate. If somebody is being unfairly beaten badly, don’t try to “break up the fight”, either attack the aggressor while he is distracted, call the authorities, or mind your own business.

  • anon

    i was actually in the middle of this. i assume im the guy that reader thinks was being beaten up but her description isn’t accurate.

    around 6:15pm i was walking along Court St to meet a friend and I stumbled upon two women beating the crap out of a third woman who was clearly drunk, belligerent, and overmatched.

    this was happening behind the two women’s parked car on Court St @ Joralemon (i believe the women were mother and daughter and there might’ve been a third member of their party – but im not 100%)

    a crowd had gathered around them but no one was intervening and i really felt that somebody was going to get seriously hurt – not because of weapons but because of the intensity of anger of the two women towards the drunk and the fact that this was playing out on Court St in rush hour.

    i stepped between the stronger of the two sober women, and the drunk and pointed out that the area was teeming with cops and it was only a matter of time before they were there. i succeeded for a while in keeping the strong woman back, and at some point was joined by an older woman who tried to corral the drunk woman.

    unfortunately the drunk kept coming back at the strong woman, provoking her, and the strong woman could not keep her cool and they broke free. things really got scary when they fell to the ground after pulling each other’s hair with the stronger woman on top of the drunk. they stayed like that for a moment and then the strong woman slammed the drunk’s head into the street.

    it was a pretty horrible sound to hear.

    thankfully, the strong woman felt a pang of remorse and got up, leaving the drunk bleeding on the ground.

    the cops showed up and cuffed the drunk. im not sure what happened to the other women.

    but i have to admit, i was pretty disgusted when i looked around to see a crowd of about 100 of people standing by with a good 25% of them had their cellphones out and were recording it. i can understand not wanting to intervene but the overkill of cell phone recording really sickened me.

    im not sure who instigated the fight – it happened before i walked by – but it had racial dimensions. the drunk was white. the other women were African-American. and the drunk repeatedly called them “fat black bitches.” still the woman was clearly inebriated and they should’ve shrugged it off. it wasn’t a fair fight.

  • Mr. Crusty

    2 seconds of googling brings up multiple recent examples of people following willowtowncop’s advice

    Woman tries to break up fight, stabbed in chest
    5:15 p.m. EST, August 6, 2012|
    By Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel

    Orlando police reported Monday that a woman was stabbed several times in the chest when she tried to break up a fight over the weekend.

    AUBURN, Wash. — A 23-year-old man was stabbed to death early Tuesday while trying to break up a fight in Auburn, Washington, according to police.

    Auburn Police Cmdr. Mike Hirman said the man saw another man and a woman fighting across the street just after midnight and he went to help.

    “He believed that the woman was being assaulted,” Hirman said.

    As he tried to break up the fight, the other man pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

    Good Samaritan assaulted after breaking up a fight in Tenderloin fueled by anti-gay slurs
    By: Rob Nagle | 06/18/12 8:01 PM
    SF Examiner Staff Writer

    Leo Volobrynskyy before the altercation, left. He lost a tooth to a punch after he interrupted an assault Friday.
    A gay man who says he witnessed another man being beaten and taunted with anti-gay slurs in a Tenderloin liquor store became a victim himself after he called police.

    Hero dies breaking up a fight
    Published: 06th May 2012

    A HAVE-a-go hero was killed yesterday trying to break up an argument in a takeaway between the owner and a customer.
    Ricky Guest-Binns, 44, was punched to the floor and knocked out.
    His young attacker fled with two pals, a man and a woman. Three men who tried to stop them getting away were assaulted.


    Let the professionals handle it. Call the police.

  • Just Sayin’

    Anyone consider the dude the women were wailing on deserved it? Or the cops are the right guys to break it up? Which apparently they did. Get home and order the pizza.

  • Willowtowncop

    You still didn’t answer my question regarding what police department you worked for, Mr. Crusty. If you’re retired, what are you scared of? I’m an active member of the NYPD, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I haven’t said anything to discredit my Department.

    Thank you for doing your part, anon. It’s good to hear from someone who was actually there and that there are people in the neighborhood who aren’t afraid to step up and help a stranger. The person receiving the beating may have been a belligerent racist but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to bounce her head off the pavement. Its also not ok to encourage this type of behavior by making YouTube stars out of idiots like these.

  • James

    Badger, number?

  • Mr. Crusty

    Willowtowncop I ‘m not sure the relevance but if it floats your boat I was a member of the Suffolk County Police department for 20 years. I am a graduate of the FBI National Academy, A member of ASIS (American Society of Industrial Security) a member of FBINAA (FBI National Academy Associates). I am currently an executive with an international private security company and have a total of 35 years experience in law enforcement and private security.

    I am quite proud of my service and I loved being a cop. I didn’t know I had to give my Curriculum Vitae in order to have an opinion around here.

    Now lets hear your background.

  • Janeonorange

    I am with you Willowtowncop. “Let the people in charge deal with it” sounds a lot like what McQuery thought at Penn State. You don’t have to put yourself in danger to do what is right. Even if it is calling 911 while telling them you’ve done it. How about the rape/murder in Queens in the ’60s? Everyone was too afraid to do anything, hoping someone else would take responsibility and it shamed a city. It is sad to me that people can live with themselves while watching violence and think it is someone else’s job to deal with it. I have and will continue to try and do the right thing. “do unto others” and all that.

  • C.

    Willowtown cop suggest we all go out and get involved in street fights everybody! New York’s Finest right here.

  • Bette

    Both Willowtown and Crusty have valuable things to say. Sometimes there is no absolute right and wrong! If a fight breaks out in front of you, one doesn’t know what one should do nor what one WOULD do. Intervening can be a humane act of bravery and chivalry, or an act of grave stupidity, and often both.

    Sometimes it’s just a reflex, as acts of courage often are.

    Hard to live with oneself if one doesn’t help, and also hardtop live if one gets stabbed (although some people would rather live with the puncture wound).

    Anyway, I hope I don’t get punched for stepping in the middle….

  • Mr. Crusty

    Bette you make good points and I didn’t mean to suggest for a moment that citizens shouldn’t jump into situations at times. Each situation is different and should be evaluated on their own merits. Two school kids fighting is one thing – a robbery attempt with 4 against 1 is something quite different.

    I just objected to Willtowncop’s berating of civilians as being cowards, and ridiculing them for being “afraid to get a “booboo” for not jumping into a fight involving 5 people. That is a potentially extremely dangerous situation and I would not want my family member making that unwise decision.

    I applaud anon above who apparently decided to get involved. My hat is off to him. But by the same token I don’t condemn those that decided to call the police and wait their arrival.

  • Wiley E.

    Anon, glad you didn’t seemly didn’t get hurt. Thanks for helping.

    I share your feeling about the cell-phoners. Maybe some one will beat their asses one day – while others are recording it.

  • carol

    Thanks for clearing up the mystery. I thought for sure it was some ex-interns beating up Vito Lopez.