At about 5 a.m. on the south side of 16th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, a young woman was the victim of an attempted sexual assault. However, when the victim screamed causing neighbors to come out of their homes, the attacker fled, according to Aaron Brashear of the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights.
However, Brashear stressed that he received his information from someone who called him anonymously stating they witnessed the crime, and that he wasn't there.
According to the witness he spoke to, someone chased the attempted attacker down Fourth Avenue as several people called 911, but officers from the 72nd Precinct did not question witnesses or the victim.
The attempted attack reminded community members of last summer, when a series of sexual assaults plagued Queens and Brooklyn, particularly in Astoria and Park Slope.
Brashear said the witnesses recognized the assailant Wednesday morning from police videos released last summer while the city hunted persistent attackers.
“They let the guy go without even questioning the witnesses,” he said of the officers who responded to the scene. “The fact that they potentially let the same perpetrator as last summer or last spring go is ridiculous.”
A representative from the Police Department's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information said whether police can make an arrest for a crime they didn't witness depends on the circumstances.
Usually police can arrest a perpetrator for a crime they didn't witness but cannot issue a summons in lieu of the arrest. However, he said, in some cases, such as with vehicle and traffic violations, a summons can also be issued.
Jeremy Laufer of Community Board 7 said he also received a call Wednesday morning from someone who said they witnessed the crime.
“What she told me is very disturbing, particularly with what happened last year with all the assaults in the community,” Laufer said.
However, he said he is waiting for a call back from the precinct.
Laufer said he does not want to pass judgment on the precinct because it is under the leadership of a new captain he is not familiar with yet.
According to a Police Department spokesperson, the two responding officers in the case were reassigned to precincts in other boroughs in the ensuing week.