NEW YORK — A Staten Island woman buying pot from a local deli got into a misunderstanding with the cashier — who ended up macing her, dragging her outside by her hair, kicking her in the head and mistakenly calling her trans.
The shocking caught-on-video attack has left Jasmine Adams traumatized, her distress compounded by no arrest being made.
But on Monday, she moved a step closer to possible justice when her lawyer, Robert Brown, filed a discrimination suit in Staten Island Supreme Court against the West Brighton Deli Grocery & Grill.
The suit alleges that Adams, who is bisexual, was attacked because the cashier “perceived plaintiff to be transgender.” The NYPD confirmed Adams provided the same account to police when she reported the incident.
”Even if I was a transvestite, what does that have to do with anything?” asked Adams, 35, who was wearing an Apple watch wristband adorned with pride rainbow colors when she was attacked.
“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.”
The worker has been fired, but the store, on Henderson Avenue near Campbell Avenue, has not cooperated in helping to identify him, police said.
Brown said cops dropped the ball by failing to release the video to the media, as they often do when it is trying to identify and locate a suspect, and by conducting just one cursory phone interview with the victim. The Hate Crime Task Force is involved in the case, police said, but Brown noted that no investigator from that unit has contacted Adams.
Adams, a mother of two who manages a home for disabled adults, stopped at the grocery to buy marijuana for a friend around 11:30 p.m. July 28.
Weed has been legal in the city since 2021 but so far, there are currently only nine dispensaries in New York City licensed to sell marijuana. Hundreds of other shops nonetheless sell pot products.
Because she’s not a smoker, Adams had her friend on the phone as she made the $40 purchase, asking questions to make sure she was making the right choice. The clerk mistook her conversation as an attempt to haggle for a lower price.
“I said it wasn’t about the price and that I was just trying to figure out what I was buying,” Adams said. “So I paid. But he sucked his teeth and got mad and me and threw (the marijuana packet) on the floor.”
An insulted Adams opted not to pick the weed up off the floor and asked for her money back.
“He said I was trying to get him fired and that he was going to call the cops,” she recounted. “I said, ‘Call the cops! I just want my money back.’ Then I heard him call me a transvestite. I’m like, ‘Transvestite? I’m a whole female. I have lady parts.’”
The next moments were a blur.
Before she could duck, the attacker maced her in the face, she said, then ran around the counter toward her. Barely able to see, she remembered grabbing a coffee pot and swinging it at him.
She doesn’t know if she hit him, but he grabbed her by her long hair.
As she was being pulled from the store, called a “b—h” and dragged down three concrete steps, several young people were outside recording on their smartphones, some reacting in shock to the assault.
“Oh, my God!” one woman can be heard yelling in video obtained by the New York Daily News.
“You don’t have to do all that,” another person says.
The worker threw her to the concrete and kicked her in the head, the video shows.
“Next thing I know when I opened my eyes, I was outside next to my car on the floor,” Adams said. “I said to myself that I gotta get outta here because I don’t know if he’s going to kill me.”
Adams somehow drove off in her car but stopped about a block later and flagged down a couple she did not know, getting their help taking her home.
When she called 911 after getting home, cops showed up but she was told she needed to go back to the scene, which is in a different precinct from her home, and call 911 from there.
Brown, a former NYPD captain, noted police are obligated to take a report no matter where the crime occurred and that forcing crime victims to return to where they were attacked is traumatizing. The NYPD said Adams told the 911 dispatcher she would go to the scene, suggesting she voluntarily offered to do so.
Regardless, when Adams went back to the grocery and called for police from there, it took officers four hours to show up, she said. The officers, she said, appeared to know the attacker, referring to him as “Mr. Fourth of July.”
Adams, who was bruised and cut as she was dragged and kicked, didn’t realize video of the attack was on Facebook until she was alerted by a co-worker. She showed it to her mom, who cried but didn’t watch it herself until recently.
“I tried to suppress what happened,” Adams said. “It makes you feel vulnerable. I like to believe that I’m a strong woman. To me, I wasn’t so strong. It makes me feel weak.”
As crime victims often do, Adams has blamed herself for being out that late and for not just leaving the store after the clerk flung the marijuana to the ground. Her friends have tried to convince her she had every right to stand up for herself.
“But part of me still blames myself,” she said.
Workers at the store told the Daily News they remembered the incident but referred all questions to a manager, who ignored requests for comment.
Adams turned to her pillars of strength, her mother and grandmother, before deciding to file a suit.
“They said that what happened to you is not right and that you need to let everyone know that,” Adams 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.”