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October 28, 2020, 11:14 AM

NYPD cop who put knee on bystander’s neck in East Village social distancing arrest opts to resign, won’t face departmental trial


An NYPD officer who put his knee on a bystander’s neck during a social distancing arrest in the East Village has chosen to resign instead of face a departmental trial, the Daily News has learned.

Officer Francisco Garcia put in his resignation papers Tuesday, two days ahead of his internal misconduct trial at NYPD headquarters, sources said.

“There will not be a trial Thursday,” a source familiar with the case told The News.

Garcia was caught on video on May 2 grappling with witness Donni Wright while trying to arrest another man, Shakiem Brunson, for violating social distancing rules.

Garcia told Wright, 33, to move back before threatening him with a Taser, punching him to the ground and putting a knee on his neck. Wright was hospitalized and said he would sue the city for $50 million.

Garcia — who joined the NYPD in 2012 — is a Tier 3 employee, which means the NYPD cannot prevent him from getting his pension when he resigns, even with disciplinary charges pending, the source said.

Wright said he was disappointed he wouldn’t get the chance to testify at a trial, but was happy to hear that Garcia resigned.

“I’m glad he’s not on the force to do that to nobody else. I could have lost my life but I didn’t," he said Wednesday.

Wright’s mother Donna said her son — father to a 6-year-old boy — hasn’t been able to work since the incident, and still suffers from spine and rib injuries. “He’s been pretty damaged,” she said.

She started crying as she thought about the brutal assault.

“I see my child being pushed down to the ground, punched down to the ground actually, dragged off the street to the curb and then the police officer punching him again several times in his rib and then the audacity for this man to just jump on him and sit there on him,” she cried. “I don’t look at it (the video). I don’t want to think about it. I just go through.”

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Garcia was a scapegoat for the “half-baked public health policies” that came out of the mayor’s office and the NYPD.

“We warned them that sending cops out to enforce their half-baked public health policies would create a backlash — they didn’t listen, and now yet another police officer’s career has been cut short by politics," Lynch said. "Is it any wonder that thousands of cops are heading out the door before the same thing happens to them?”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office initially deferred prosecution against Donni Wright and two other men. Prosecutors officially declined to press charges on May 18.