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Police: NYC bar owner flouting COVID measures hits officer with car

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Police in New York City have arrested the co-owner of a Staten Island bar that has flouted coronavirus restrictions after hitting an officer with his vehicle while attempting to evade arrest, authorities said.

The New York City Sheriff's Office said officers early Sunday attempted to arrest Danny Presti, 34, who co-owns Mac's Public House, after watching patrons sneak into the bar through an empty commercial facility next door in spite of coronavirus restrictions against in-door dining.

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Once being confronted by police, Presti fled on foot to his vehicle. On trying to drive away, he hit a deputy, who then held onto the vehicle's hood as the car drove, authorities said, adding the officer suffered broken legs in the incident.

Authorities accuse Presti of hitting the officer "intentionally and with depraved indifference to human life."

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According to court documents, Presti drove with the officer "on the hood of the motor vehicle down South Railroad Avenue, turned left onto Lincoln Avenue and made another left onto North Railroad before being stopped by a sheriff's motor vehicle."

Presti had been arrested last week for keeping the bar open despite coronavirus restrictions, which brought hundreds to the establishment in protest. The New York State Liquor Authority also suspended its liquor license after finding it allowed customers inside.

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Mac's Public House said on Facebook in November it was "an autonomous zone" and that its owners "refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the mayor of NYC and governor of NY state."

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On Sunday, the bar defended Presti, stating he was arrested after it had closed while he was attempting to get into his car.

"He just finished working an 18-hour day to provide for his family and save our establishment!!!" it said on Facebook.

Bill Neidhardt, press secretary for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Sunday that Presti's actions "made it crystal clear" what type of person he is.

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"Whether it's flouting public health laws or ramming a car into a deputy, this guy clearly has no regard for the lives of others," Neidhardt said in a statement. "That's what it comes down to."

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