The Black deliveryman given a noose by the owner of a popular New York City meat market says he just can’t go back to work after the disturbing ordeal.
Victor Sheppard says he’s too traumatized to return to work with local meat distributor Mosner Family Brands because it continued doing business with the famed Ottomanelli & Sons meat market following the butcher shop owner’s sick “joke,” according to the New York Daily News.
“I could have lost my life or been badly injured or in jail, and it didn’t mean anything to them,” Sheppard, 37, said. “It’s not easy returning to an environment where you mean nothing.”
The man’s attorney, Wylie Stecklow, insisted his client couldn’t continue working and added that Sheppard had endured many sleepless nights over the racist incident. He said the deliveryman is still unsure of when his life will return to normal.
“Victor could not return to that environment,” Stecklow said. “His employer knew exactly what happened and was supportive, but they never stopped doing business with Ottomanelli.”
The disturbing incident occurred on the morning of April 5 when Sheppard stopped by the shop to deliver some meat. That’s when owner Joe Ottomanelli handed Sheppard a hand-fashioned noose.
“Here is your gift,” Ottomanelli said, according to a criminal complaint. “You can put it around your neck and pull if you want to end it all.”
“If you are feeling stressed out ,I can help you with it,” he added.
The 58-year-old butcher has since been charged with a hate crime.
Sheppard was told he could apply for disability leave and was offered free counseling but decided not to pursue either option, according to his boss, Michael Mosner. Mosner also said Shepperd would’ve been assigned to a different route so he’d have no contact with Ottomanelli & Sons. However, he didn’t show up to work on two occasions.
“Naturally, we were horrified about what happened,” Mosner said of the noose incident.
He said the meat distributor tried to hold Sheppard’s job as long as it could, but “he just didn’t do his part.”
On June 9, the company mailed a notice to the deliveryman informing him that the company assumed he abandoned his job, the New York Daily News reported.
Ottomanelli’s lawyer, Ron Kuby, insisted there was no hatred attached to the butcher’s so-called joke and that Sheppard’s grievances about his inability to return to work was nothing more than an attempt to get rich off the incident through a lawsuit.
“There’s no reason for this man to quit his job besides the reason that suing is easier than working,” Kuby said.
Though Kuby admits the noose incident was “hateful and deplorable,” he argued that the ordeal was simply a prank and shouldn’t be considered a crime.
It should be noted that Sheppard has not filed a lawsuit against Ottomanelli & Sons.
Ottomanelli is set to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Sept. 19, the newspaper reported.