Two New York City doormen who did not come to the aid of a 65-year-old Asian woman while she was repeatedly kicked outside the apartment building where they worked have been fired, according to the building’s owner.
The Brodsky Organization announced the dismissals Tuesday after a video of the March 29 attack surfaced. It shows the woman struggling to fend off her attacker while one of the doormen closes the front entrance to the luxury building in Midtown Manhattan.
The video of the attack went viral across the US. That the staff members’ only visible response was to watch added to the outrage that greeted the video’s release.
The men were initially suspended in the aftermath of the assault, one of a string of attacks in New York City and nationally in recent weeks against Asian Americans. An internal investigation resulted in the doormen’s firing.
Brandon Elliot, 38, who was out on supervised parole after serving time for killing his mother more than a decade ago, was charged with attacking Vilma Kari, 65, originally from the Philippines, in front of 360 West 43rd Street as she walked to a nearby church, police said.
Surveillance video shows Elliot kicking her to the sidewalk and stomping on her head multiple times before fleeing. Police said Elliot also allegedly screamed, “You don’t belong here” during the attack.
Police arrested Elliot, who is black, at a nearby hotel for the homeless where he was staying, authorities said. He has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault as a hate crime and one count of first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, according to the New York City Police Department. Elliot was released from prison in 2019 after serving a sentence for killing his mother in 2002. He was on lifetime parole.
The Brodsky Organization initially said that a doorman had moved to close the door because it appeared Elliot had a knife.
About a minute after the door was closed, both of the men left the building and appeared to help Kari. The Brodsky Organization said in an email that the doormen also had flagged down a police car, but they didn’t call 911 to report the assault as it was happening, according to police.
The company said on Tuesday that it had completed its inquiry into how the doormen responded and decided to fire them.
“While the full lobby video shows that once the assailant had departed, the doormen emerged to assist the victim and flag down a New York Police Department vehicle, it is clear that required emergency and safety protocols were not followed,” the company said. “For this reason, their employment has been terminated, effective immediately.”
It didn’t identify the employees by name, and a spokeswoman didn’t specify the protocols that staff members hadn’t followed.
However, the doormen received widespread support from the building’s residents. In an open letter to the Brodsky Organization, the residents said that the surveillance footage “mischaracterizes” their actions.
The residents added that they didn’t believe the staff members had “failed us as residents, our Midtown Manhattan community, nor our fellow AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) New Yorkers”.
The men’s union also has thrown its support behind them, adding that the video doesn’t show their full response. The union president hinted that the employees could take legal action.
The victim of the attack emigrated from the Philippines several decades ago. She spent a day in the hospital and was discharged after being treated for serious injuries, including a fractured pelvis.
Her daughter, Elizabeth Kari, said on a fundraising web page set up to pay for her mother’s care that her mother was “resting these past few days and wants to send her best, as your energy, prayers and thoughts have reached her”.
She also said that a person across the street from the incident temporarily distracted the attacker by screaming at him.
The NYPD has logged 31 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 so far. There were none in 2020 in the same time.