Police say popular butcher at a West Village meat market is at the center of a hate crime investigation after he allegedly gave a black deliveryman a noose.
Joe Ottomanelli of Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market on Bleecker Street, allegedly gave Victor Sheppard a yellow-roped noose with a disturbing message, authorities said.
"If you ever have any stress, just put it around your neck and pull it. I could even help you with it," Ottomanelli allegedly told the 36-year-old deliveryman as he laughed, the Daily News reported.
Sheppard, who's delivered meat to the butcher for the past eight months, brought the noose to the Sixth Precinct stationhouse in Greenwich Village and filed a report, police said. He alleges that the "58-plus" butcher has made racially insensitive comments before, but brushed them off.
The NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force has launched an investigation.
The longtime butcher told the newspaper that the two were "just fooling around" and never thought his joke would be taken as a racial attack because the meat market works with other black drivers.
"This is an unfortunate circumstance that we are working to resolve immediately," Ottomanelli & Sons said in a statement to the newspaper Thursday. "We are a family-owned business with over 50 years of service in the Village, and have the utmost respect for all of our employees and patrons."
Sheppard says he doesn't plan to return to the decades-old shop again.