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Staten Island bar co-owner who defied lockdown order allegedly hits sheriff's deputy with car, gets arrested again

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Danny Presti of Mac's Public House says he did 'nothing wrong'

Image source: WABC-TV video screenshot

The co-owner of Mac's Public House — the Staten Island bar that has gained national attention for defying COVID-19 lockdown orders — was arrested over the weekend for allegedly hitting a New York City sheriff's deputy with his car, WABC-TV reported.

What are the details?

Two deputies followed Danny Presti to his vehicle after he left the bar — which had welcomed customers once again — shortly after midnight Sunday, officials told the station.

Image source: WABC-TV video screenshot

The deputies identified themselves, approached Presti, and tried to arrest him for multiple offenses, WABC said, adding that Presti began to flee on foot toward his vehicle. The pursuing officers ordered him to stop, the station said, but Presti entered his car.

Officials said Presti allegedly drove into one of the deputies, who was thrown upon the hood of the vehicle, WABC said, adding that Presti drove about 100 yards with the injured officer clinging to the hood until deputies eventually brought the vehicle to a stop.

WABC said the incident was caught on surveillance video.

What happened to Presti?

Presti was arraigned Sunday on multiple charges — including felony assault — and was released from police custody, the station said. Presti's attorney Lou Gelormino told WABC his client spent the night in jail.

It was the second time Presti was arrested in less than a week, as sheriff's deputies raided Mac's Public House last Tuesday night and led Presti away in handcuffs for defying COVID-19 lockdown orders.

Presti on Monday said he's stepping back for a couple of days out of respect for law and order, the station said — but he and Gelormino maintained his innocence.

"Two big, burly officers came out from in between a parked car, behind him, and yelled, 'Presti! Hey, Presti!' and started running at him," Gelormino said Monday, according to WABC. "That's what started the whole turn of events. It wasn't two officers in uniform, waving badges, saying, 'Hey, can we talk to you?' That's what started the whole event."

Presti also made a statement Monday, the station said: "I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement. I think when you find at the end of the investigation, you will find that I did nothing wrong."

Image source: WABC-TV video screenshot

What happened to the sheriff's deputy?

The injured deputy was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released, WABC said. A station reporter said during the broadcast that the deputy broke bones in his leg as a result of the incident — but that Presti denies that and insists the deputy only twisted his ankle — and that there's video to prove it.

More from WABC:

Officers made the arrest after conducting surveillance on the bar, which had violated COVID restrictions multiple times.

Officials say officers saw a woman standing in front of the pub who would guide people into the neighboring commercial space.

They were able to observe people enter the space and then disappear into a back room.

Those who were visible through the windows appeared to be drinking alcoholic beverages.

Around 10 p.m., officers saw about 20 people exit the neighboring space, followed by another 10 people.

Gelormino told the station the bar's tables were six feet apart Saturday night, including on the patio in the back, and that all social distancing rules were being followed.

Presti prior to his arrest told WABC that "we're struggling, and a lot of people in these businesses have lost a lot, and in the beginning, we were OK to sacrifice, and we've sacrificed everything at this point. You have to take care of us, the government is supposed to be there to protect you, and that's the opposite of what's happening here."

What did NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have to say?

"I think his actions are extraordinarily disturbing, I think they are disgusting, I think there's no excuse for someone doing something that might threaten a law enforcement officer, that's what he did," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said about the incident, the station reported. "Our sheriff's deputy, his life was in danger because of what this guy did. It's absolutely unacceptable, he should pay very very serious consequences for what he did. I am always concerned we have to make sure consequences are clear. So I respect that the law enforcement system has a way of determining who can get released and who doesn't. But what I care about the most here, is that it be very clear, there are serious serious charges, and this guy did something extremely dangerous, and he needs to suffer the appropriate consequences for what he did."

What did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have to say?

"A couple of primary New York values: One of them was, you don't assault a police officer. They are defending a person who drove his car into a law enforcement officer, drove 100 yards with a law enforcement officer clinging to the hood for his life, and that's who they are championing ... Someone who attacked a law enforcement officer," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, according to WABC. "You don't attack the NYPD. You don't do it. They put their life on the line. You don't attack a law enforcement officer who is doing his or her job. And when you have someone who drives their car into someone, could have killed him, hospitalizes him — how dare you? What signal are you sending when you glamorize that type of behavior? ... It's repugnant to the values of any real New Yorker. You never assault a police officer."

Anything else?

After Presti's first arrest Tuesday a large group of protesters hit the street in front of Mac's Public House Wednesday night to show their support for the bar.

And WABC reported that yet another protest is planned for Monday.

CBS News said Staten Island is home to many police officers and firefighters and is usually seen as supportive of law enforcement. The network added that the New York City borough is much more conservative than the rest of the city and is the only one of the Big Apple's five boroughs that voted for President Donald Trump in November.

This story has been updated.

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