An employee of a Westchester Square pharmacy, who was arrested after arguing with a traffic agent over a parking ticket, has won support from area merchants who claim the traffic agent lied about George Collazo physically assaulting her while issuing a summons.
Collazo, 23, was charged with menacing and assault after he allegedly grabbed an electronic parking ticket device out of the traffic agent’s hands. The agent was writing Collazo an expired muni-meter parking summons at 1:15pm on Thursday, December 3.
Video from surveillance cameras outside Metro Optics in Westchester Square, across from where the alleged crime occurred, show Collazo and the agent in a heated exchange, but at no time is any physical force used. A Metro Optics employee also witnessed the exchange.
“I was sitting near the door because I manage Metro Optics,” Aurora Susi said. “I watched the whole thing. He really didn’t touch her.”
Collazo ran out of his store to insert quarters in a muni-meter, Susi said.
The traffic agent was writing a ticket and Collazo began to argue with her, Susi said. According to a complaint report, the traffic agent stated that her middle finger was hurt when Collazo grabbed the parking ticket device out of her hands and threw it to the ground. Susi saw something fall to the ground but wasn’t sure whether it was the ticket device or a parking ticket.
“Three vans full of police showed up on the scene in minutes and arrested [Collazo after the traffic agent called for back up],” Susi said. “I’m sure [the traffic agent] saw this young man and thought that she could make an example out of him. I’m sure she’s tired of taking abuse from people she writes tickets to.”
In the Westchester Square business world, Collazo is known as a team player and has participated in a number of community efforts. He played for the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square in the group’s charity softball game against the Throggs Neck Merchants Association.
Joe Regina of Metro Optics called the traffic agent’s allegations “ludicrous.”
“George is one of the nicest young men that I know. A hardworking kid who’ll do anything for you,” Regina said. “I know that he’s not the type of person to assault a traffic agent.”
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org