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Charges Against 11 Firefighters Involved in Brawl Pending

Charges Against 11 Firefighters Involved in Brawl Pending

New York City Fire Department Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano [AP]

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

February 05, 2010

BROOKLYN – Several firefighters are likely to be charged after a boozy brawl at a Brooklyn bar that sent a college soccer coach to the hospital with a busted eye, police sources said.

Sinan Selmani, who works at St. Francis College, was clutching his broken eye socket as he was dragged by firefighters to a bathroom at the Salty Dog in Bay Ridge, witnesses told police.

Surveillance video shows firefighters, Selmani and three cousins throwing punches while other FDNY members tried to break it up, sources said.

Investigators believe 11 firefighters were involved in Saturday’s brawl though it was not clear how many would be charged, police sources said.

A captain and lieutenant were in the bar but did not jump in the fight, FDNY sources said.

One police source said it was a “classic barroom brawl” but that firefighters could face assault charges even though they’re claiming self-defense.

“The problem for them is it’s not one or two punches,” the source said. “And you got a guy being dragged.”

The fight started as Selmani, 35, and his cousins passed out shots, NYPD and FDNY sources said. A cousin, Luan Leka, 21, spilled his drink on a firefighter.

It’s unclear what happened next. NYPD and FDNY sources say the firefighter demanded an apology and Leka instead punched him in the jaw.

A lawyer for the cousins said Leka did apologize but the firefighter was still yelling. When an older cousin intervened, the firefighter socked him, he said.

Either way, cousins and firefighters jumped into the fight, which quickly escalated, sources said. After Selmani was beaten and dragged to the bathroom, he freed himself and found a trap door behind the bar. He hid with a cousin in the basement for two hours until the firefighters left, the sources said.

He suffered a fractured orbital socket and bruising across his body, police said. Cousins Kujtim Selimi, 39, and Mentor Leka, 39, and the 21-year-old Leka suffered minor injuries.