The women accused of beating a hostess at a Manhattan restaurant in September were arraigned on assault charges Tuesday, as court documents provide some detail into the controversial case that sparked claims of racism and a police cover-up.
The women — Kaeita Rankin, Tyonnie Rankin and Sally Lewis — each face multiple assault charges, as well as a harassment charge, for the Sept. 16 incident at Carmine's on the Upper West Side that triggered a firestorm of allegations. The charging documents allege that the three women grabbed the woman by the arms and hair before they hit her in the face, neck and shoulder.
One of the women grabbed the 24-year-old worker by a necklace and broke it, leading to lacerations on her neck, court documents read. The woman was left with scratches and bruises following the incident. She was hospitalized and later released.
All three defendants were released on their own recognizance. The next court date was scheduled for Nov. 18.
The whole incident allegedly stemmed from a dispute that arose over the city's vaccine mandate for restaurants and other businesses. The women accused of the assault were in fact vaccinated, the restaurant said in the aftermath of what happened, and did show their vaccine cards.
A second part of their party did the same thing, and all were escorted inside to sit at a table.
But a third group that was also part of the party did not show any proof of vaccination, and as a result were not allowed in, Carmine's said. The restaurant said the women came back outside in an effort to convince the managers to let their friends in.
At this point, the surveillance video shows the hostess — an Asian woman who appears agitated — who was later hit. A coworker can be seen on video ushering her away, and a short time later the vaccinated members of the party reenter the restaurant, passing the hostess briefly.
The women appear to get triggered by something that happened or was said, and turn suddenly to run back outside where they confront the hostess from behind, and the fight ensues.
Justin Moore, the attorney for the group of women from Houston, Texas, said the fight was never about vaccination, and started only after a woman started shouting racial slurs.
"The epithet was the N-word and one of the women was called a monkey by this hostess," Moore said.
He added that the notion the fight was started over vaccination status is "completely false and that narrative has been used to criminalize these women and try to help Carmine's and this hostess save face in the light of their bad acts."
After the lawyer raised the allegations of racism, protests were held in front of the restaurant, urging others not to dine there.
Surveillance video of the fight has no audio, so it won't help answer what the hostess may or may not have said to the group of women in that moment in the hallway. There were no other witnesses there other than the hostess and the women.
Carmine's said that the women never mentioned racial slurs in their complaints at the time, and said in a statement that the group of women is having their lawyer "falsely and grossly misrepresent their acts of wanton violence in a cynical attempt to try to excuse the inexcusable."
The restaurant maintains that the brawl was "entirely unprovoked ... because none of our hosts — all of whom are people of people — ever uttered such a slur."
New York City’s rule requiring proof of vaccination for indoor restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues has been in effect since Aug. 17 but only began being enforced on Sept. 13.