Texas women showed proof of vaccine at NYC restaurant before fight at hostess stand, lawyer says

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NEW YORK — New details have emerged surrounding a viral video that showed a scuffle between tourists and a hostess at a New York City restaurant over a vaccine requirement.

The incident at Carmine's in Manhattan has drawn widespread attention to the restaurant and New York's requirement that patrons dining indoors be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cell phone video from last week shows a group of customers from Texas allegedly assaulting a hostess at the Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. But attorney Justin Moore, who represents one of the three women charged in the incident, told the New York Times and Daily News there is more to the case.

According to Moore and surveillance video reviewed by the Times, the women were already seated at the restaurant before the fight ensued. The three women showed their proof of vaccination before entering the restaurant. But the situation escalated when two men arrived to meet up with them but could not provide proof of vaccination.

Moore said his client, who is Black, was racially discriminated against and harassed during the incident.

In a statement to USA TODAY on Monday, Carmine's denied the allegation and called the incident "an entirely unprovoked, brutal attack."

"None of the attackers mentioned anything about race to our managers, staff, or the police who arrested them, and a Texas criminal defense lawyer’s false assertion otherwise is a deeply cynical ploy to try to excuse wanton violence," the statement said.

"We are focused on keeping our employees safe as they continue to enforce New York’s vaccine mandates, and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We are also very grateful for all of the support from our community and the City, which has been incredibly touching for our staff," the statement said.

The restaurant confirmed the women had already showed their proof of vaccination and were "welcomed into the restaurant without issue." The incident occurred after the men were unable to provide proof of vaccination, the restaurant said.

Moore did immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment Monday.

Video: NYC hostess allegedly punched after asking customers for proof of COVID vaccine required by city

The incident happened Thursday at the restaurant's hostess stand. Cell phone video published by NBC New York shows the fight unfold as a group huddles around the stand. Several women are seen being held back and the stand nearly topples over.

Enforcement began Sept. 13 of New York's requirement for all patrons dining inside restaurants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Bars, restaurants and gyms are all subject to the vaccine mandate, enacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the establishments face fines if the city finds they are not checking vaccination status.

According to the Times, the surveillance video shows an exchange between the women and the hostess after the men were denied entry into the restaurant. The women were led back into the restaurant but crossed paths with the hostess again, the video shows, according to the Times.

More on vaccine requirements: NYC begins requiring proof of vaccination at restaurants, gyms, museums and other indoor venues

The Times reported the hostess "brushing past the women" and exiting the restaurant before the women follow her out. One of the women confronted the hostess outside the restaurant and shoved her; the hostess then pushed back, and the fight ensued, the Times reported.

Moore told the Times, “The hostess begins spouting out derogatory comments, and speaking with two of the women; they claim that the N-word is being spewed out.”

In its statement to USA TODAY, Carmine's denied any of its hosts used a racial slur and they "did their best to welcome a large party while enforcing New York’s vaccination requirement for indoor dining."

Surveillance video from the restaurant reviewed by the Times did not include audio, however. Moore also told the Times and Daily News the women believe the hostess assaulted them and want to see her fired.

According to a statement from the New York City Police Department, the hostess was repeatedly punched and had her necklace broken. She also suffered bruises and scratches to her face, chest and arm.

The women were issued desk appearance tickets and charged with assault and criminal mischief. They are due in court in early October.

NBC New York reported Carmine's had increased its security over the weekend.

“She’s extremely shook up,” Carmine’s owner Jeffrey Bank said of the hostess in an interview with the Daily News. “It’s inexcusable, ridiculous.”

The Daily News and Times reported a co-founder of a Black Lives Matter chapter in New York plans to protest outside the restaurant Monday.

Contributing: Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NYC vaccine requirement fight: Lawyer says client faced discrimination