On July 28, at around 11:30 p.m., Jasmine Adams, a 35-year-old mother of two went into the West Brighton Deli Grocery & Grill in Staten Island’s Randall Manor neighborhood. She was intending to buy cannabis for a friend.
She was on the phone with that friend while making the purchase, and the cashier became agitated, believing she was trying to haggle over the price.
“I said it wasn’t about the price and that I was just trying to figure out what I was buying,” she told the New York Daily News. “So I paid. But he sucked his teeth and got mad and me and threw [the marijuana packet] on the floor.”
Adams asked for her money back, at which point she says the cashier shouted at her and accused her of trying to get him fired.
He threatened to call the police.
“I said, ‘Call the cops! I just want my money back,'” Adams said. “Then I heard him call me a transvestite. I’m like, ‘Transvestite? I’m a whole female. I have lady parts.'”
The cashier then maced Adams, ran around the counter to grab her, prompting her to grab a coffee pot and swing it at him.
He grabbed her by her hair and dragged her out of the store, calling her a “bitch” and pulling her down the concrete steps. The cashier then threw her on the ground and kicked her in the head.
“Next thing I know, when I opened my eyes, I was outside next to my car on the floor,” Adams told the Daily News. “I said to myself that I gotta get outta here because I don’t know if he’s going to kill me.”
She drove off for a block but had to stop and get help from strangers to get home. She called 911, but said she was told she had to go back to the store and call 911 because it’s in a different precinct from her home.
When questioned about this by the Daily News, the New York Police Department said that Adams didn’t have to return to the crime scene, but volunteered to do so when talking to the dispatcher.
Adams went back to the store and called 911. She says it took police four hours to show up and, when they did, they called the cashier “Mr. Fourth of July” as if they knew him.
She later discovered that a video of the attack shot by bystanders had been posted to Facebook. Despite the public video, police haven’t arrested the cashier.
Adams also noted that police haven’t made the video public, hampering efforts to identify her attacker. The Daily News reports that the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is involved, but Adams said she was only interviewed briefly over the phone by a detective, and has not spoken to anyone from the hate crimes unit.
Workers at the store told the Daily News they remembered the incident but declined to comment, referring questions to a manager, who ignored requests for comment. Police told the newspaper that the worker had been fired but the store has not cooperated in helping to identify the cashier.
Earlier this week, Adams filed a lawsuit against the deli, alleging she had been discriminated against based on perceived gender identity.
The lawsuit alleges negligence, assault, battery, and discrimination, noting that the cashier only called her a “transvestite” after observing an Apple watch wristband adorned with Pride-themed rainbow colors. She is also suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, reports Law & Crime.
“Even if I was a transvestite (sic), what does that have to do with anything?” she said. “Why were you so comfortable putting your hands on me? I wasn’t being aggressive. I didn’t have any weapon. I was a customer.”
Robert Brown, a former NYPD captain who is Adams’s attorney, told the Daily News that police erred in failing to release video of the attack to the media, as they often do when trying to identify and locate a suspect, and by only conducting a brief interview with Adams.
He also noted that police are obligated to take a report no matter where the crime occurred, and that Adams should not have been told or led to believe she had to return to the crime scene.
Adams says she partly blames herself for being at the store so late, but was encouraged by her mother and grandmother to file the lawsuit.
“They said that what happened to you is not right and that you need to let everyone know that,” she said. “For me, it’s not about the money. Whatever my sexual preference is, it shouldn’t be questioned when I walk in the store.”
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