Assault charges filed against two Brooklyn nail salon workers who pummeled a Black customer with broomsticks in a viral video have been dismissed at trial, according to the New York Daily News.
Huiyue Zheng and Ni Len had been charged with assault and weapons possession in connection with a 2018 brawl at a Brooklyn nail salon.
On March 16 Justice John Hecht tossed out charges against Zheng and Len, ruling that there was not enough evidence to sustain the allegations against the two female workers.
A surveillance video from the now-shuttered Brooklyn salon Happy Red Apple Nails shows a fight between two to three Black women and the salon shop’s Asian employees in August 2018. A verbal back and forth is captured before the brawl begins around the 7:10 mark.
A customer, identified as Christina Thomas, and Zheng were arrested following the violent encounter on Aug 3, 2018. The incident stemmed from Thomas’ dissatisfaction with a $5 eyebrow wax job she got that day, both parties agree. The dispute over the botched eyebrow job and how the salon should make the situation right eventually devolved into a melee that included the salon employees wielding a broom and throwing acetone on the Black women.
An Instagram post made sometime after the fight by a woman identified as Thomas’ mother stated,
“ … My Mother, daughter and her friend where attack Friday night by a gang of Asian nail technicians,” she wrote. Why? Because, my daughter refused to pay them for a botched 5$ eyebrow wax.”
Thomas originally faced misdemeanor charges of assault, but all charges against her were dismissed after prosecutors reviewed the video and interviewed witnesses. Charges against Zheng would remain in place. However, the viral video sparked protests calling for the 10-year old establishment’s closure.
“The community took this up as a cause and shut those people down,” Scott Tulmen, an attorney for Zheng recently said to the Daily News. “There was no basis for that. It was not right. They made this into a racist issue, including the local politicians.”
Attorney Larry Wright, who represented Len, said both nail salon employees were willing to plead guilty to lesser offenses like disorderly conduct or harassment, which would have negated concerns about their immigration status, but the DA’s office declined to agree to such a plea deal, prompting them to go to trial, Wright told the Daily News.
Medley, who was also a part of the altercation, was disgusted with the outcome.
“Those people beat me and my grandbaby like animals for no reason,” Medley said in a statement through a friend. “Everything they did to us was caught on video, and they still got off. This whole case showed us that the court doesn’t give a damn about black women.”
Tony Lindsay, a close friend of Thomas who generated a GoFundMe site to help Thomas and her family pay for legal counsel, said the case was biased in favor of the two defendants.
“This was an egregious miscarriage of justice, and was clearly orchestrated with bias in favor of the defendants,” Lindsay said. “This entire process was insulting and disrespectful to the victims of that gang assault, and we assure you that this is far from over.”
The March 16 ruling was made after the prosecution presented its case in a two-day bench trial that included testimony from Thomas and Medley. Hecht ruled the employees acted in self-defense.