A senior lawyer for the city is facing a year in jail after allegedly barging onto a lower Manhattan street that was blocked with police tape because of falling ice — and then tussling with the cop who tried to stop him.
“I work for Corporation Counsel, and I have to get down the block!” Karl Ashanti, 44, told the cop as he stormed down Park Place just west of City Hall Park, according to a law-enforcement source.
“Get out of my way!” Ashanti allegedly shouted before shoving the cop’s shoulder and then flailing his arms like a penguin to avoid getting cuffed.
As a senior lawyer in the city’s Special Federal Litigation division, Ashanti defends NYPD cops against civil-rights lawsuits.
But Thursday morning, Ashanti began shouting at the First Precinct cop who confronted him for crossing the tape, according to a criminal complaint against him.
The tape was up to keep pedestrians like Ashanti off the block “due to unsafe and icy conditions,” the complaint says.
“When I asked the defendant to stop and leave the area, he refused,” the cop, Officer John Shapiro, told prosecutors, according to the complaint.
“I then observed that the defendant began yelling at me, in substance, that he would not turn around.
“I repeatedly asked the defendant to leave the unsafe blocked-off area, and he repeatedly refused,” Shapiro told prosecutors.
Meanwhile, several other pedestrians took advantage of the situation by bolting past the police tape, Shapiro said.
“Because I was attempting to get the defendant to leave, I could not stop these other people from entering the unsafe blocked-off area,” the cop told prosecutors.
When the officer wouldn’t back down in demanding Ashanti leave, the livid lawyer allegedly took things to the next level, shoving Shapiro in the right shoulder — twice.
Out came the handcuffs, but according to Shapiro, Ashanti kept fighting.
When Shapiro tried to arrest Ashanti, the lawyer “shoved me again, refused to put his hands behind his back, and flailed his arms, thus making it more difficult to handcuff him and place him under arrest,” the officer said.
Ashanti spent most of Thursday in custody before being arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing governmental administration, which is punishable by up to one year in jail. He was also charged with resisting arrest and harassment.
“I really don’t have any comment,” Ashanti told a reporter.
He’s due back in court on March 26.
Additional reporting by Laura Italiano