Case sealed for man who attacked New York Post reporter
The case against the man who assaulted New York Post reporter Kevin Sheehan while being evicted from an encampment in New York City’s Riverbank State Park has been sealed, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an email on Oct. 11, 2023.
Sheehan and photographer G.N. Miller were covering the New York Police Department’s eviction of an area of the park in March 2022. Miller was filming when Rewell Altunaga, who the Post reported had been living in the park, hit Sheehan with a tree branch and knocked his phone out of his hand.
Altunaga also hit Miller with a garbage bag, causing Miller’s camera to smash to the ground. Altunaga was charged with second-degree assault and criminal mischief, the Post reported at the time.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told the Tracker that the case against Altunaga could have been sealed for several reasons: the case was dismissed, the defendant accepted a six-month probation deal (a so-called adjournment in contemplation of dismissal), or the defendant pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct or another non-criminal violation.
Kevin Sheehan, a reporter for the New York Post, was assaulted by a man who was being evicted from his makeshift dwelling in Riverbank State Park in New York City on March 28, 2022.
According to the Post, the man, Rewell Altunaga, has lived in the park for several months. His eviction came the day after city officials issued a "notice of clean up" in the area of the park where Altunaga was living. Sheehan, who was reporting on the New York Police Department eviction of the area with a colleague, captured the assault on video.
The video shows Altunaga climbing down from a tree and grabbing a tree branch before walking toward Sheehan. Altunaga then asks Sheehan, "Why are you taking pictures?" before hitting Sheehan twice with the tree branch, once on his head, and knocking his phone out of his hand. Sheehan did not respond to requests for comment from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, and it is unclear if his phone was damaged.
In the video, Sheehan tells three police officers present about the assault. "This guy just hit me with a stick. You guys can't just let him walk away. That's assault," he said.
The video shows NYPD police officers arresting Altunaga after he hit another Post journalist, photographer G.N. Miller, with a garbage bag, causing Miller’s camera to smash to the ground. The Tracker has documented that assault and equipment damage here.
According to the Post, Altunaga was charged with second-degree assault and released without bail on March 30. A judge also ordered that he remain clear of journalists Sheehan and Miller. NYPD has acknowledged but not responded to a request for more details.