Man charged with attacking police in Times Square was misidentified, D.A. says

A blurry image of a policeman wrestling with a man on a sidewalk
Police officers confront a group Jan. 27 near New York’s Times Square, in an image taken from video.
(New York Police Department )

A Venezuelan man who became the subject of national attention for allegedly kicking a police officer in New York’s Times Square, then flipping off news cameras on his way out of court, was cleared of wrongdoing Friday after prosecutors concluded that he played no role in the attack.

The exoneration by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg came weeks after Jhoan Boada, 22, was vilified as the “smug” face of a Jan. 27 brawl between migrants and New York City police officers that touched off a political furor.

He featured prominently in a pro-Donald Trump political ad titled “Joe Biden’s middle finger,” which ended on a freeze frame of Boada making the gesture while leaving his arraignment.


In a Manhattan courtroom Friday, prosecutors told a judge that further investigation proved Boada did not participate in the attack. The man seen in the video kicking an officer with pink shoes — initially identified by police as Boada — is believed to be someone else. That man has been charged and is awaiting criminal arraignment.

An attorney for Boada, Javier Damien, said his client was the victim of a “rush to judgment” by media, police and elected officials.

“It was a political football, and people were attacked with a broad brush,” he said. “It’s very sad.”

Boada, who lives in a New York homeless shelter, had maintained his innocence from the start. During his arraignment Jan. 31, his attorney told the judge that Boada had requested that surveillance video of the incident be shared because “everybody who watches the videotape will not see him on there.”

Prosecutors agreed to release Boada without bail, noting that he did not have a criminal history and that they were working “to conduct a thorough analysis of the incident and the defendant’s role in it,” according to a transcript of the proceeding.

News of Boada’s release drew fiery responses from conservative media and police officials. In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell suggested that Boada and others had fled the city on a bus — an allegation that was later contradicted by officials.


“To add insult to injury to all of us, and we’re very benevolent people in New York City, to give us literally the finger on the way out the door,” Chell continued. “This is a host of issues that we have to talk about, and it stops right here.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, lashed out at prosecutors’ decision not to seek bail, adding that all involved in the assault should be deported.

In the weeks after the brawl, the Manhattan district attorney acknowledged that some of the people initially accused of kicking police were found to have played a less significant role in the melee than previously thought.

“We have to ensure we identify and charge those individuals who actually committed criminal acts in this matter,” Bragg said. “The only thing worse than failing to bring perpetrators to justice would be to ensnare innocent people in the criminal justice system.”

The assault charges were downgraded to evidence tampering after prosecutors determined that Boada had not touched police officers but had traded his jacket with one of the men who fled the confrontation.

Additionally, a 19-year-old reported to have attacked officers did not do so but allegedly kicked a police radio. Prosecutors also dropped assault charges against a 21-year-old for lack of evidence.


Damien said Boada was confused when police arrested him on assault charges two days after the incident, but he struggled to defend himself in English.

“He was trying to explain to the cop that he wasn’t there,” the attorney said. “But they wouldn’t listen to him.”