By Geoffrey Croft
A Parks Department worker was viciously attacked while working in a popular Queens park by a criminal with lengthy arrest record NYC Park Advocates has learned.
City Parks Worker David Campbell, 51 was punched in the face and stomped in the head in an unprovoked assault while working in Rufus King Park in Queens on February 22nd at 10:45am.
"I could have gotten killed," said Mr. Campbell who's been seen by multiple doctors and out of work ever since.
Mr. Campbell said he was putting away tools and waiting to drive WEP workers to other area parks when the burly 6"1 250 pound Brannigan approached a female WEP worker and began harassing her. He asked the woman if she was working for welfare and how much she made. He began to curse at her and said he was the welfare recipients boss.
Without warning Brannigan swung and punched Mr. Campbell on the right side of his face hitting him in the right eye.
Campbell fell and while on the ground Brannigan kicked him in the side of the head. Campbell jumped up and the assailant took off down Jamaica Ave. Campbell called 911.
Officers from the 103rd Pct. caught up with him a few blocks away in a check-cashing store on Parsons Blvd and Jamaica Avenue where Campbell was brought to identify the assailant. When he arrived he saw Brannigan handcuffed by a police car.
Campbell was taken by ambulance to the Pct. to make a statement and then brought to the emergency room in Queens General hospital where his eye was swollen shut.
"I was assaulted in the park," said David Campbell, a park employee for seventeen years. "I didn't see the swing. He hit me in my eye."
"My heart was beating so fast the doctors had to wait and wait and wait," he continued, "They checked my eye to see the blood vessel busted. It was swollen really really bad - it was closed down.
I had to force open my eye to get the machine to look to so see if there were any blood vessels burst. The area was black and blue. There's blood inside my eye balls."
Five days later he still has blood in his eye. Next week he has to get an x-ray because doctors, "found something, " he said.
Campbell, a father of 14-year-old girl said he is taking care of his 85-year father who has Alzheimer's disease and prostate issues. He gets emotional when he talks about what could have happened.
" I could have gotten killed. I could have been dead cause the guy was two feet next to me on the side. I didn't pay him no mind because he wasn't talking to me, it wasn't my business. If he had a knife I would have been dead right now. He was like behind me. I could have been dead. I wasn't watching him.
My father has no one here but me, and I've got a daughter," he continued. "I could have been dead. I could have lost my life.
I was in shock. I kept saying I was alright but I wasn't alright."
Campbell was filling in for a crew chief that day as he often does.
Park workers say they've seen the assailant Victor Brannigan exercising in the park and talking to himself.
Campbell said he was just standing there and he didn't say a word to him before the incident.
"I wish I would have been face to face then I would have known what to expect. If PEP had been over there is probably would have been different. It's not safe over there. That's a big park. They could snatch up someone anywhere and drag them into a car. That park is not safe.
Sometimes there's only one worker here. A woman by herself. It's not safe. They could just grab her behind a tree and all that stuff."
Campbell said there are no Park Enforcement Patrol in the Park and sometimes just seeing a PEP uniform can be a strong deterrent.
According to the Queens District Attorney's office Branigan was charged with Assault in the Third Degree a punishable up to a year in jail and Harassment in the Second Degree.
A judge ordered a psychiatric exam for Branigan. He was in court on Friday where he was found not fit for trail. Yesterday he was transferred from Rikers Island to a State Hospital for psychiatric care.
"I'm glad it didn't happen to someone else. It could have been a lot worse," Mr. Campbell said by phone today. "I could have lost my life or someone else.
I was brought up to forgive. It's in God's hands. I'm sure he's got a family. I hope he gets the help he needs."
The NYPD crime report erroneously listed the indent as occurring on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street instead of inside the 11.5 acre park. By law the city is required to track crime for all parks and playgrounds 1 acre or greater but the NYPD and the Parks Department have not complied with the law.
Rufus King Park, located btw.150th - 153rd Streets btw. Jamaica & 89th Avenues in the Jamaica, southeast Queens has been a regular location of the 103rd Precinct's annual National Night Out Against Crime celebration.
The King Manor (1805) located in the park - is on the National Register of Historic Places.