British soldiers held for 'attack' on New York police officer after alleged racial slur

The soldiers have claimed that they lashed out when the NYPD officer called one of them a 'black b******'
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Six British soldiers have been arrested in New York after an off-duty police officer was allegedly beaten up and robbed outside a bar.

A court in Manhattan heard that the Royal Regiment of Scotland soldiers allegedly punched an NYPD officer to the floor and continued hitting him as a friend attempted to stop them.

According to reports three of the four soldiers, who are from Fiji but are based in Edinburgh, lashed out in the early hours of Friday morning when the officer started talking to a woman who was with the group.

The Ministry of Defence has said it is aware of British soldiers being involved in an incident and added that any soldier found to be in the wrong could face discharge.

Reports claim that at some point during the brawl the police officer is said to have pulled out a knife on his alleged attackers.

One of the soldiers is accused of grabbing the policeman's mobile phone and a chain around his neck when he attempted to call 911, the Times reported.

The soldiers have claimed that they lashed out when the NYPD officer called one of them a “black b******”.

The court was told that when he identified himself as a police officer they responded saying: “We don’t care. F*** the police”.

The soldiers - Iosefo Yavala, Iliakini Raderua, Thomas Shute, Felite Vunisarati, Mosese Kuruala and Joeli Raduva - were arrested when police arrived at the scene at around 4.40am on Friday.

Yavala was charged with robbery and assault following the fight outside the Mercury Bar in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan. The other five were each charged with a single count of assault.

The six soldiers - members of the regimental rugby team - were due to play at the Mystic River Rugby Club in Boston yesterday. Raduva is a Territorial Army lance corporal who was mentioned in dispatches in 2011, according to the Daily Record.

An NYPD spokesman said: "On Friday 30th at 4.40am in front of Mercury Bar, 493 3rd Avenue, an off-duty officer was punched and robbed by three or four males. The off-duty officer called 911 and officers responded. Six arrests were made in regards to the incident."

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement: "We are aware of an incident in New York involving some British soldiers."

"This is a matter for the NYPD and it would be inappropriate to comment while there is an ongoing investigation.

"All those who are found to fall short of the Army's high standards will face disciplinary action, up to and including discharge, if appropriate."