Man accused of starting fight at Harvey Milk High claims he was the victim
October 16 2003 12:00 AM ET
The man accused of starting a fight outside New York city's gay high school has said he was the victim. Vernon Jones, 23, of Brooklyn was trying to protect his wife and child when he was jumped by a crowd of 15 bottle-throwing students outside Harvey Milk High School, his lawyer said. "They stabbed him in the back, and he had to be taken to St. Vincent's [Hospital]," Sanford Tarkin said in Manhattan criminal court, where Jones was charged with misdemeanor assault. "These people assaulted him with a weapon and stabbed him in the back."
According to the New York Post, prosecutors backed Jones's version of the October 8 incident--in part. In a separate complaint they alleged that two students, Kareem Macedon and Lorenzo Penn, "set upon" Jones, causing him to fall to the ground, where he was punched, kicked, and struck about the face and body by the two 16-year-olds and the others. Macedon--who allegedly displayed a knife and threatened Jones--and Penn were charged with attempted gang assault and attempted assault after admitting to kicking and punching Jones.
But prosecutors said Jones started the violence by jumping bisexual student Erica Simon and throwing her against the glass window of a Starbucks at Astor Place, the Post reported. Simon, 17, said students are often harassed verbally outside the school but that this incident was different because Jones got out of his car. "The whole point is, we all stick together," she said. "If one person gets jumped, it's not like we're all going to just watch." Prosecutors said the incident escalated when Jones pulled out a screwdriver. When Simon didn't run away like the others, he allegedly threw her against the Starbucks window. That's what prompted the crowd of up to 15 students to allegedly return and converge on Jones. Simon said she bruised her hand when she hit Jones in self-defense. A school security guard and other students urged her to bring charges against Jones, she said. But when she went to the ninth precinct to file a complaint, cops arrested her. Simon said she was kept for 22 hours handcuffed to a bathroom door in the station house and then spent a night in a jail cell before prosecutors decided not to press charges. "Someone should get sued," she said. The district attorney's office decided not to prosecute Simon, who was originally charged with gang assault and menacing in the fight. The D.A. as yet has also declined to prosecute Jones with a bias crime.