A Queens councilman wants hate crime charges brought against a manager of tattoo parlor and head shop he alleges attacked a gay couple and used an anti-gay slur.
Mohammed Hoque, the 26-year-old manager of Village Moon, a shop on Roosevelt Ave. and 78th St. in Jackson Heights, was given a desk appearance ticket for two misdemeanor assault charges after the November confrontation.
Councilman Daniel Dromm and the two victims contend police should have charged him with a hate crime.
The two men, Joseph Sokolowski, 39, and his husband, Jeremy Valarezo, 36, visited the store just before 1 a.m. Nov. 3 to buy a $46 tobacco pipe, said their lawyer, Ali Najmi.
After Sokolowski paid with his credit card, Hoque demanded a photocopy of his driver’s license, Najmi said. When Sokolowski refused, Hoque offered to give the men a refund.
But the argument escalated.
Dromm posted on Twitter a 30-second video showing what happened next.
“That’s why we do that, because there’s a—-s like you that come in here and do stupid s—,” the manager says — evidently, that was his explanation for demanding ID.
WATCH: Village Moon tattoo parlor manager calls local residents, a married gay couple, "faggots" then punches one of them. We will not let this stand! Queens must remain a safe place for LGBTQ+ people.
Anti-hate rally tomorrow, 10am. pic.twitter.com/be9ejHPn3u
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) January 21, 2019
Sokolowski objected, saying his home address is on his drivers’ license.
“I don’t even know your f—g name, a—-,” one of the men replies.
Hoque then tells his customers to “get your f—g bulls— f–t a–” out of the store.
Police said Sokolowski knocked over a mannequin on his way out, damaging it, and that Hoque punched both of the men in the face. The attack wasn’t caught on video.
Cops arrested Sokolowski on a felony criminal mischief charge, and was held overnight until his arraignment. Proescutors later knocked his charge down to a misdemeanor.
“We were outraged that the NYPD ignored video evidence,” said Michael Mallon, Dromm’s spokesman. “We feel strongly that this should have been investigated as a hate crime and we would like to NYPD to elevate the charges to a hate crime.”
The councilman plans a rally outside the tattoo parlor Tuesday morning.
A police spokesman said Monday that the fight was a dispute over money, and that Sokolowski admitted that he knocked over the mannequin because he was angry.
“No information was provided at the time to indicate this was a hate crime,” said Sgt. Brendan Ryan, adding that police are still probing the incident.
“The hate crime task force is aware of the video and is looking into the matter,” Ryan said.
Najmi wants on prosecutors to drop the criminal mischief charges against Sokolowski, and said the mannequin was undamaged.
He’s also calling for hate crime charges. The tattoo parlor is located a block away from a gay club, in an area with a high LGBTQ population, he said.
“This is a bias-motivated assault. That’s the only thing that makes sense,” Najmi said.
When contacted Monday, Hoque said he wanted to tell his side of the story, but needed to speak with his lawyer first.
“You guys will get my side of the story. The way it’s being said, that’s not the whole story,” he said.
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