NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man wanted by police in connection with an assault in a Chelsea Dallas BBQ restaurant has spoken out.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Banya El-Amin said he is the victim, and he said the attack – all caught on camera – does not tell the whole story.
El-Amin has been eluding police since cellphone video showed him slamming a chair over the head of a Brooklyn man at the Chelsea BBQ at 261 Eighth Ave., at 23rd Street, in Chelsea.
But blogger Waddie Grant said he spoke with El-Amin, and the suspect claimed he acted in self-defense.
“He was assaulted,” Grant said. “He was sitting at his table when the incident occurred, and it wasn’t because of a racial slur or a homophobic slur.”
The incident happened around 11 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, during what was reported to be a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Warning: Some May Find Video Disturbing
After Snipes’ partner pulls him away, the attacker raises the wooden chair and slams it down on both men’s skulls. Snipes slumps in a chair, while the other man collapses to the floor.
Sharef told WCBS 880 that Snipes was the one who initially made the argument physical. But as the fight escalated, other patrons were heard yelling for the fight to stop — with some even trying to break it up.
Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, because Snipes and the man he was with are gay. But El-Amin told Grant that he himself is gay too, and that was not the issue.
“Snipes and his partner — his companion – got into a loud altercation,” Grant said. “El-Amin spoke out, or spoke at them, and told them, ‘Cut it out,’ and said, ‘Hey, there are ladies in here.’”
“I was the victim,” Grant wrote. “I was sitting at my table. With no provocation, he came up and hit me. There was no slur thrown at him. There was no interaction between us in a sense, except for what I said earlier when I said to them, ‘Hey, guys! There are ladies here.’ Then he came over to me and said, ‘And YOU calling us ladies.’ Then, POW!”
El-Amin accused Snipes of making “false accusations.”
CBS2 was not able to reach Snipes at his home or by phone. Former FBI investigator Manny Gomez said El-Amin is not helping his case by staying on the run.
“I think psychologically, he is just reaching out to bloggers to try to profess his innocence,” Gomez said. “But ultimately, this will help police to ultimately catch him.”
CBS2’s Sanchez reached out to the NYPD to see if police made any progress finding El-Amin themselves. They would only say there is no update on this case.