A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly drove his daughter to a park to fight a group of girls and then allegedly assaulted a teen with a crowbar when he tried to intervene, authorities said.
Richard Ortiz, 45, of East Meadow, was charged Wednesday with second-degree assault. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment at Nassau First District Court in Hempstead and was ordered held on $10,000 bail. Police said Ortiz surrendered early Wednesday morning to face charges in connection with the June 18 incident after two witnesses picked him out of a photo array.
Detectives say the 17-year-old victim was at Abe Levitt Park on Stewart Avenue with three friends when Ortiz showed up with his 17-year-old daughter and three of her friends. Police said the daughter exited the car and approached the group in an attempt to engage in a fight with another girl. When the victim stepped in between the two, Ortiz allegedly struck him in the head with a crowbar. The victim was taken to a local hospital and had eight stitches put into his head, prosecutors said.
Ortiz’s defense lawyer, Deron Castro, disputed the allegations and said the father of five was acting in self defense. He said the police department’s version of events wasn’t what actually happened, insisting his client didn’t bring his daughter to the fight, but received a frantic phone call from her in the middle night prompting him to drive to the park.
“He’s an easy target because of the climate that we’re in now, and they can put together a nice little story that he brought his daughter down there to fight someone. That’s not the case, it didn’t happen that way,” Castro said. The defense lawyer said someone with the victim had a baseball bat and had threatened to kill Ortiz. He told a judge Wednesday that Ortiz, a sales manager at a car dealership in Nassau, was “a grown man defending his daughter.” He maintains his client was acting in self defense and said it was nunchucks – not a crowbar – his client was allegedly wielding. Castro has two prior criminal convictions, including one for a weapons charge in the 1980s, the lawyer said.
Ortiz’s daughter, Alexandra Negron, 19, admits she was at the park and involved in the scuffle. “This is unfair, I was attacked,” she told reporters. “I was jumped and I have injuries.” Crying in a courthouse hallway, the recent Hicksville High School graduate added, “If my dad didn’t show up I would’ve been really hurt that night, this isn’t fair.”
Castro, the defense lawyer, claims Ortiz’s daughter went to police to report the altercation and try to file charges against the other group. He said an officer told her, “You better think about filing this complaint, or you may wind up in handcuffs.” Responding to the allegations, Insp. Kenneth Lack, the police department’s chief spokesman said, “I’m sure the defendant can bring that up with the court.” Prosecutors said they had no other reports of injuries.