By Ashley Oliver
A former CUNY student was honored by the NYPD with a Good Samaritan Award after he intervened in the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl on a city bus in October.
The incident, which was caught on video and went viral in the aftermath, involved former BMCC student Moise Morancy. Students from York College and Lehman were also on the bus and witness the altercation.
Morancy, a 21-year-old who is trying to break into the music business, said he saw Pablo Levano, who appeared intoxicated, sit down next to the victim. According to Morancy, after he saw Levano touch the teenager’s leg, he punched him in the face and restrained him.
Officers from the 112th Precinct arrived and initially handcuffed both Levano and Morancy.
“I thought I was going to be attacked because of the color of my skin,” said Morancy. “I thought to myself, ‘welp, there goes my career and everything I worked for down the toilet.’ But to my surprise, the police listened to me and I was shocked.”
York College junior Justin Demsey and Lehman College senior Ashley Apparbal, were eyewitnesses to the attack.
Demsey, a Juvenile Criminal Psychology major, said he gained respect for the NYPD because of their gentle approach.
“Even if black people are in the right, they’re wrong,” said Demsey. “That’s what most young, black men think these days with all the crimes against blacks. But after seeing that they listened to him, and then even rewarded him, it shows me that they’re human beings, too.”
But Apparbal, a Lehman College Political-Science major, said that the award did not change her negative perception of the NYPD.
“Of course they had to reward Moise,” said Apparbal. “He did a good deed. But that’s not the only reason they did that. The attack happened during the heat of the elections. The police had perfect opportunity to move the blame to Trump, and used Moise to look good. It’s not surprising that a black police happened to save the day. If they just listened to him without looking at the color of his skin and looking at the demographic of the area, maybe they wouldn’t have put him in cuffs at all.”
Apparbal said although it is obvious that Morancy was aware of his rights, she believes CUNY should provide classes dedicated to teaching rights for blacks in America.
The video starts mid-altercation, with Morancy holding Levano down and struggling to restrain him. Levano’s nose is bloody and he is heard cursing at Morancy, who yells for other passengers to call 911.
When the police arrive, a group of white officers restrain both men. It was not until an African American sergeant showed up that Morancy was released.
The sergeant, Johnny J. Hines III, presented Morancy with a plaque on Nov. 26 from the 112th Precinct Community Council. Morancy, who has had several negative encounters with the police, said his attitude toward them has changed.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for Sergeant Johnny J. Hines III, I probably wouldn’t have changed my mind about the police,” said Morancy. “The problem wasn’t about race. It was about a little girl being assaulted. But I think that most young black men, even the ones that are doing well for themselves, are afraid of police even when they should be considered a hero.”
Levano was charged with forcible touching, acting in a manner injurious to a child and harassment. He was held for several weeks before posting $2,000 bail and released on Nov. 16. He is due back in court on March 23.