Lifeguards in New York City, New York, United States leave their chairs at 6:00 p.m., which marks the official end of legal swimming hours. Those who are found swimming after 6:00 p.m. are instructed to leave without issue but in rare circumstances, arrests are made.
Shortly before 7:00 p.m. on August 5, 2022, Andre Velasquez, 33, of Queens, New York City was swimming at Rockaway Beach in New York City when New York City Parks Department officers noticed him. He is a native of Briarwood, Queens and he runs a dog-walking business.
The officers told Velasquez to present his driver’s license so they could write him a summons when he exited the water. He maintained that he had not done anything wrong so he refused, prompting the officers to arrest him.
According to Velasquez, the officers all bombarded him at one time, tackled him to the ground and had his mouth under the water. He told Gothamist that he was “literally screaming” and the arrest was “baffling and traumatizing.”
New York City Parks Department spokesperson Dan Kastanis told the publication that Velasquez was non-compliant for 30 minutes and the arrest was warranted. But according to the Briarwood native, after hearing the whistle, he came in almost immediately.
Velasquez was driven to the New York City Police Department‘s 100th Precinct in Queens. He was given a criminal summons for disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a peace officer’s directive.
Rockaway Beach is named for the Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk, the largest urban beach in the U.S. Due to its large Irish American population, the neighborhood is also known as the Irish Riviera.
Just after 2:00 p.m. on July 23, 2022, the Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk was closed due to shark sightings. It reopened at 10:00 a.m. on July 24, 2022.