Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chelsea Man Who Clubbed Gay Men With Chair Now Suing Victims & Witnesses for Assault, Battery, & Defamation

Do you remember this incident from last summer? A video was posted involving a guy smashing a pair of gay men over the head with a chair at a BBQ restaurant in Chelsea, NY. The video went viral and soon everyone was looking for the large black man who assaulted the gay guys. The guy with the chair was eventually identified as a gay man who works as an HIV-counselor. It turns out that this was the end result of a larger argument between the two parties. The guy with the chair (Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin) was eventually charged with assault and attempted assault.

El-Amin has now filed a civil lawsuit against the guys that he clubbed with the chair, as well as some of the witnesses:
An HIV counselor's night out in New York City went off the rails when he was labeled a homophobic racist for wielding a chair to fend off a gay couple attacking him, he claims in court. The May 5, 2015, altercation at a Dallas BBQ in Chelsea hit major news outlets across the globe, and had politicians and civil rights groups rushing to judgment. "Cops hunt thug who beat gay couple with a chair," proclaimed the New York Daily News. New York City Councilman Corey Johnson meanwhile renounced "the senseless act of anti-LGBT hate violence that was perpetrated last night at a restaurant in my district." Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin, the Bronx man who was the target of these headlines, contends in a Nov. 19 lawsuit that there was only one problem: he was actually the victim. 

El-Amin, 41, says he arrived at the boisterous barbeque joint with friends at about 11 p.m. on the night in question after attending a charity event. He says 32-year-old Jonathan Snipes was at a table nearby, arguing with his boyfriend, Ethan York-Adams, 25. Claiming that the couple nearly fell onto some women sitting nearby, El-Amin says he interceded, saying "guys, come on, there are ladies here." He says Snipes then "viciously struck" him on the head with a "heavy, blunt weapon" that cut open El-Amin's head. The attack was "so sudden and completely unprovoked that plaintiff, who was ordering his meal, did not even raise his arms, duck or otherwise defend himself," the complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court states. "Dazed and bleeding," El-Amin allegedly pushed Snipes to the ground and then tried to walk away. Snipes nevertheless "continued his attack by grabbing at plaintiff's legs and attempting to claw at plaintiff's genitals," according to the complaint. York-Adams allegedly "joined in the attack by pushing plaintiff onto his injured back." With York-Adams blocking, Snipes then grabbed a knife from a table, the complaint states. El-Amin says no one came to his help, and that the manager even walked away. Fearing for his life, and "left with no choice, plaintiff grabbed a chair and threw it at his attackers, knocking them to the ground and giving plaintiff time safely to retreat from his attackers by walking out of the restaurant," the complaint continues. 

Snipes filed a criminal complaint with the police that night, while Isaam Sharef, another patron of Dallas BBQ, uploaded video of incident to the Internet, according to the complaint. El-Amin says one of Snipes' friends, Matt Friedlander, then sent Sharef's edited video to CBS News, calling it footage of "a vicious hate crime." Another friend of Snipes, Sarah Meyers, told DNAinfo "we want this to go viral," according to the complaint. "Snipes's lies did, in fact, go viral," the complaint states. "Within twenty-four hours of Snipes's CBS interview, millions of people all over the country and around the world were being shown Sharef's edited video and/or plaintiff's photo and told that plaintiff was a violent homophobe."
I have seen the video. Nobody behaved well. But Snipes and York-Adams had clearly disengaged from El-Amin towards the end of the fight and weren't even looking at him when he clubbed them with the chair.

El-Amin is seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery from Snipes and York-Adams, for negligence from Dallas BBQ, and for defamation against pretty much everyone include Sharef, Friedlander, and Meyers.

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