New York

Man charged with attacking cops in Times Square and vilified in Trump ad was misidentified, DA says


A Venezuelan man who became the subject of national attention for allegedly kicking a police officer in Times Square, then flipping off news cameras on his way out of court, was cleared of wrongdoing on Friday after prosecutors concluded he played no role in the attack.

It was initially believed that a person seen on video from the Jan. 27 brawl wearing a black and white jacket with pink shoes was Jhoan Boada, according to police. However, the Manhattan DA’s office said that person was actually 25-year-old Marce Estee, who has since been arrested and charged with assault on a police officer.

The stunning exoneration came weeks after Boada went viral as the “smug” face of the brawl between migrants and police officers that touched off widespread political furor.

He featured prominently in a pro-Trump political ad titled “Joe Biden’s middle finger,” which ended on a freeze frame of Boada making the gesture while leaving his initial arraignment.

“After a thorough and diligent investigation, Jhoan Boada has been exonerated as a participant in this assault,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

In a Manhattan courtroom Friday, prosecutors told a judge that further investigation proved Boada did not participate in the attack. The man seen in the video kicking an officer with pink shoes – initially identified by police as Boada – is now believed to be a separate person. That man has been charged and is awaiting criminal arraignment.

An attorney for Boada, Javier Damien, said his client was the victim of a “rush to judgment” by media, police, and elected officials. “It was a political football, and people were attacked with a broad brush,” he said. “It’s very sad.”

Boada, who lives in the city’s homeless shelter, had maintained his innocence from the start. During his arraignment on Jan. 31, his attorney told the judge that Boada had requested the surveillance footage of the incident be shared widely because “everybody who watches the videotape will not see him on there.”

Prosecutors agreed to release him without bail, noting that he did not have a criminal history and that they were still working “to conduct a thorough analysis of the incident and the defendant’s role in it,” according to a transcript of the proceeding.

At the time, news of Boada’s release drew fiery responses from conservative media and the city’s police officials. In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell suggested that Boada and others had fled the city on a bus – an allegation that was later contradicted by officials.

“To add insult to injury to all of us, and we’re very benevolent people in New York City, to give us literally the finger on the way out the door,” Chell continued. “This is a host of issues that we have to talk about, and it stops right here.”

Damien, the attorney for Boada, said his client was confused when police arrested him on assault charges two days after the incident, but he struggled to defend himself in English.

“He was trying to explain to the cop that he wasn’t there,” the attorney said. “But they wouldn’t listen to him.”

The scrum at one of the city’s busiest areas for tourists drew national attention, and was captured on body cam footage. It started after officers asked the group to move off the sidewalk.

Five of the eight suspects in the attack have been arrested and were remanded to Rikers Island. That includes Yohenry Brito, a migrant from Venezuela who was allegedly seen on video in the confrontation with police officers.

Brito has pleaded not guilty to assault on a police officer. His attorney says his client was targeted by cops for no reason.

“[You can] see the officers telling people to move on the sidewalk who are just standing there doing nothing,” Brito’s attorney previously told NBC New York.

Yorman Reveron also entered a not guilty plea. Prosecutors have requested a $100,000 bail for Reveron, highlighting the seriousness of the charges. His attorney blamed the cops for starting the incident.

“One of the officers grabs that individual, Mr. Brito, and slams him against the wall. And this is how the incident starts,” Reveron’s lawyer said in February.

Kelvin Servita Arocha and Wilson Juarez were both hauled into court out of ICE custody — their bails set at a symbolic $1 to keep them on Rikers Island instead of facing deportation. ICE has alleged both are Tren de Aragua gang members.

Darwin Andres Gomez-Izquiel faced the judge as well, pleading not guilty. Authorities say he was the lookout during a robbery at Macy’s in Queens weeks after the fracas; he’s been held at Rikers in connection with that incident.

All of the men arraigned in this case are due back in court in April.


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