We reported on Wednesday that an elderly London man was pushed down and had his face bashed against the sidewalk by a thug early Tuesday morning in Borough Park. The attack was decried as a potential anti-Semitic “knockout” assault by Councilman David Greenfield. On Thursday, we followed with a report from CBS that police said the man recanted his story and was, in fact, not attacked.
And now the story keeps going. Greenfield issued a statement last night calling the CBS report erroneous, and confirming that the man still believes he was attacked. Here’s the statement:
The following is the victim’s statement regarding the incident and the subsequent investigation and media coverage, as provided to Councilman Greenfield directly from the victim:
“I was returning from a wedding at about 2 a.m. on Monday night and am convinced that I was attacked from the back and pushed to the floor, face down. However after extensive interrogations by the police, I recognise that there is a possibility that due to the shock of the incident and my injuries I was confused and disorientated and it may be that I tripped in the dark and hurt my face when falling down.
I am distraught by the statement which was publicised by CBS today suggesting that I was lying. This is a libellous statement which damages both my own and my family’s reputation, and I have already informed CBS that I intend to sue them for defamation unless I am convinced that my name and reputation are restored, which CBS assured me would be the case.
As for the police, the Detective assured me that his report doesn’t suggest anything other than that I was absolutely truthful and helpful in their investigation.”
Councilman Greenfield also issued the following statement: “While it’s not clear exactly what occurred on Tuesday morning, two things are clear: this individual suffered serious injuries in the incident, and the NYPD fully believes that he has been truthful with them. The victim in no way lied or attempted to mislead the NYPD. I have confirmed that information directly with the supervising officer investigating this case. I have every confidence that the NYPD will continue to diligently investigate this case and trust that they will reach the appropriate conclusion.”
CBS has not exactly changed the substance of its report, though they updated its online version with the remarks above.
Meanwhile, the whole thing has gotten very political, bringing to light the tensions between Greenfield and local Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who have a long-running (if often private) feud.
It appears Hikind released a statement following the claims that the victim recanted, wagging his finger at an unnamed politician – presumably Greenfield – for calling it a knockout attack.
“It’s important not to make statements until matters are clarified. Sending out false alarms and panicking people is counter-productive. We do our homework first, as we did in this case. The police made it very clear to us on Tuesday, immediately after we were called, that this matter was not indeed a Knockout Attack, so why call it that?,” the statement said. The statement was headlined, “FALSE REPORTING: A DANGEROUS HABIT, SAYS HIKIND”.
Greenfield, after reading the statement from the victim on his radio show, then took Hikind to task – also without naming him.
The Observer reports:
“‘False reporting’? There was no false reporting. This person gave an honest report with the information that they had. A ‘dangerous habit’? The implication that this individual is somehow a habitual liar. That’s ridiculous! That’s absolutely ridiculous!” Mr. Greenfield exclaimed. “This stuff happens behind the scenes. I usually never discuss it. But I’m really, really outraged today. Here I am. I work hard. I’ve worked from early morning to late at night and other people have nothing better to do and nothing positive to add to the conversation. All they do is take potshots at you.”
“If someone comes into my community, and its a tourist, and they feel like they’ve been attacked, well I’ll tell you what other elected official: I’m going to fight for them! And shame on you for criticizing me. And shame on you for creating machlokes [conflict]. And shame on you for sinas chinem [baseless hatred]. And shame on you for criticizing a victim,” continued Mr. Greenfield.
“His 15-minute rant left everyone who heard it flabbergasted. Was it paranoia? Theatrics? I hadn’t attacked anyone,” he told the Observer.