New York Post:
On a bright Monday morning in August, 18-year-old David Peralta-Mera drove his cherry red Mustang, his girlfriend in the passenger seat, into a well-trafficked parking lot off Main Street in East Hampton.
Life was looking good: Peralta-Mera had two jobs, one in food prep at Dopo La Spiaggia and the other doing maintenance at the Sportime tennis club in Amagansett. He was a rising sophomore at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The car was a recent splurge, paid for with his summer wages.
As for what happened next, Peralta-Mera doesn’t really recall. But according to police, the Suffolk County District Attorney, witness statements and surveillance video, 31-year-old Charles Harrison Streep — nephew of Meryl — drove past Peralta-Mera in his own drop-top Audi and exchanged words.
Within seconds, Streep, much taller and broader than Peralta-Mera, was out of his car and shoved Peralta-Mera. The two grappled, but Streep quickly got the teen in a chokehold, neck squeezed under Streep’s right armpit. Streep hoisted Peralta-Mera’s limp body twice, like a rag doll, then threw him to the pavement.
That afternoon, the 18-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with a Level 1 trauma center, where he underwent emergency surgery, needing part of his skull removed to treat a brain bleed. He was left with a crescent of thick, blood-encrusted staples arcing up from his right ear.
Peralta-Mera’s prognosis, in the short and long term, is unclear. His civil attorney, Edmond Chakmakian, told The Post that the teen has medical bills climbing well over $130,000, but is unable to work, let alone drive his new car. He can’t attend college this fall. Chakmakian says Peralta-Mera is “probably not going to have much of a career.”
Three days after the attack, Streep was arrested at his family’s $5 million dollar Pondview Lane estate, charged with two felonies — second-degree assault and second-degree strangulation — and released on $5,000 bail.
The Suffolk County DA’s office recently lowered both charges against Streep to misdemeanors, bail exonerated. Peralta-Mera and his family struggle to understand why.
“I could have died,” Peralta-Mera told me recently.
“My head was swollen the first month and a half,” he says. Now, “I have to stay inside. Just a lot of doctor appointments and neurologist appointments.” Last week was another CAT scan and an MRI.
This case gets at two lightning rods no one in the Hamptons ever wants to touch: class and race.
“The Hispanic subpopulation out here is made up of exceedingly hard-working people with deep religious roots,” Chakmakian said. “I have another client injured on the job, a well-known general contractor, dumped out in front of Southampton hospital unconscious. These people are treated as expendable.”
Streep’s demeanor since the attack has been one of arrogance and entitlement. A few weeks after his arrest, he was photographed shirtless and carefree on the fire escape of his luxury Prince Street apartment, then later that day playing basketball with friends, telling the press to “talk to my lawyer.”
Along with three dozen protesters, Peralta-Mera attended a rally outside East Hampton Justice Court on Oct. 8 during a virtual hearing. Streep was a no-show — the accused was photographed strolling casually in Manhattan, coffee cup in hand. A GoFundMe called Help David, established by Kurt Wenzel of his “Dopo family,” has so far raised $29,990 of a $100,000 goal to help pay medical bills. On Oct. 25, supporters again gathered outside the courthouse in East Hampton, chanting, “David, friend, we are with you,” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Yet Charles Streep looks like he’s getting a wrist-slap at best.