Assault, Bronx District Attorney's Office, La Vera Pizzeria, National, News, News Video, Quevaughn Caruth -

Despite Video Surveillance, Pizza Manager Denies Striking Bronx Man with Giant Wooden Spatula

Assault, Bronx District Attorney's Office, La Vera Pizzeria, National, News, News Video, Quevaughn Caruth -

Despite Video Surveillance, Pizza Manager Denies Striking Bronx Man with Giant Wooden Spatula

A Bronx legal assistant is seeking damages after he claims a pizzeria owner beat him unconscious with a giant pizza spatula.

In a new lawsuit, Bronx resident Quevaughn Caruth accuses Ali Essa, the former manager at Manhattan slice shop La Vera Pizzeria, of assaulting him with a wooden peel used to place pizzas in the oven. Caruth said the brutal attack left him with a busted lip, a gash under his eye — and a hate for all things pizza.

“My life has totally changed,” Caruth, 24, told the New York Daily News. “I used to love pizza, could eat a whole box by myself and now even thinking about it upsets me.”

The incident unfolded March 17 on what was supposed to be a fun night out with friends for Caruth, who works at the Bronx D.A.’s office. The young man said he and two friends stopped by the pizza parlor for a bite to eat after leaving a Midtown Manhattan bar. Soon after ordering his chicken and cheese slice and an iced tea, however, Caruth said a staffer approached him and asked him to leave the restaurant.

He had barely taken a bite from his pizza, he told the newspaper.

The worker claimed the restaurant was closing soon, yet Caruth was the only patron being asked to leave, Caruth’s friend, Jacob Zirinsky, told NBC New York. The legal assistant said he felt singled out after realizing he was the only black person in the entire store.

Caruth said he insisted on staying until his friends received their food, but the group was ultimately ushered outside where Caruth claims an employee called him a “stupid N-word.” Moments later, Essa exited the store with the pizza peel in tow before hitting Caruth with it. He struck the young man so hard that spatula broke, New York Daily News reported.

“The manager came over with like a big pizza spatula and hits Q,” Zirinsky recalled.

The legal assistant fell in and out of consciousness as his friends called an ambulance and waited for help to arrive. Caruth said he remembers waking up to an EMT shining a light in his face.

The attack was captured on surveillance video, which lead to Essa’s arrest five days later. The ex-manager, who’s now charged with assault, denied hitting Caruth with the spatula, however.

“I held the thing because he was telling me he’s going to kill me,” Essa told the New York Daily News, arguing that Caruth was among a group of patrons who refused to leave the store. “I was defending myself. I was protecting my store. But did I hit him in the face with it? No, I didn’t.”

Records obtained by NBC New York showed the restaurant called the police twice for customers who wouldn’t leave during the time Caruth and his friends were there. A La Vera employee, who asked to remain unnamed, accused one group of throwing objects at workers. Caruth his friends have denied that, however.

The Bronx man said he hopes to see the other worker charged and expects an apology from the restaurant.

As for Essa, he’s scheduled to appear in court later this week.


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