A New York man is facing an assault charge after police said he slapped Rudy Giuliani, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, on the back at a grocery store on Staten Island on June 26. Surveillance footage of the encounter has been shared widely on social media.
Video Shows the Man Slap Giuliani on the Back With an Open Hand
The confrontation happened at a ShopRite in the Charleston area of Staten Island, CBS News reports. Giuliani was there to campaign for his son Andrew, who is running for governor of New York, NBC New York reported. Fox 5 New York, citing the New York Post, published footage of the incident on YouTube here.
The same footage, shared on Twitter by @RonFilipkowski, has been viewed millions of times. In the black-and-white video, Giuliani is seen standing with several people with his back to the camera.
Another man, now identified by NBC News as ShopRite employee Daniel Gill, 39, approaches and taps or slaps Giuliani’s back with an open hand. From the video alone, it’s unclear how much force was actually behind the touch. Giuliani shifts forward slightly after Gill walks by, but it’s unclear from the video whether he took a step forward or lost balance.
The woman standing beside Giuliani is seen rubbing his back after the slap. Gill, who is wearing a mask, then faces Giuliani before continuing to walk past the group.
There is no audio on the video. The New York Times, citing police, reported that as Gill touched Giuliani, Gill said, “What’s up, scumbag?”
Giuliani told The New York Post the man then expressed anger over the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to Giuliani, the man said, “You guys think you’re saving babies, but you’re gonna kill women.'”
Gill Initially Faced a Felony Assault Charge Before the Charge Was Downgraded to a Misdemeanor
Gill initially faced a charge of second-degree assault for hitting a senior citizen, ABC7 in Chicago reported. The outlet added that Giuliani “was not seriously injured and refused medical treatment.”
However, the Staten Island district attorney’s office later decided to downgrade the charge and charged Gill with misdemeanor assault, The New York Daily News reported. Gill’s lawyer argued that the video “actually shows a tap on the back,” the outlet added. The judge released Gill without bail and barred him from going near Giuliani.
Giuliani told The New York Post he decided to call the police in order to set an example for others. “I say to myself, ‘You know something? I gotta get this guy arrested,’ I talk about ‘broken windows’ theory all the time. You can’t let the little things go. I’m like, ‘I’m gonna get this guy arrested as an example that you can’t do this.'” He added, “The Supreme Court made a decision. You don’t go around attacking people because of it.”
Giuliani has called for Gill to be fired from his job, NBC News reported. The parent company of ShopRite released a statement, as shared by CBS News, following the incident but did not comment on Gill’s employment status:
We are aware of an incident instigated by a store associate involving former Mayor Rudy Giuliani took place at the ShopRite of Veterans Road on Staten Island earlier today. Store security observed the incident, reacted swiftly and the police were notified. We have zero tolerance for aggression toward anyone.
Giuliani Claimed It Felt Like He’d Been ‘Shot’ & Could Have Fallen & Cracked His Skull
Giuliani spoke about the encounter with WABC Radio hours later; the outlet shared a clip of the conversation on Twitter. “All of a sudden, I feel a shot on my back, like somebody shot me,” Giuliani said.
“I went forward but luckily I didn’t fall down. Lucky I’m a 78-year-old in pretty good shape because if I wasn’t, I would’ve hit the ground and probably cracked my skull. And then, I look around and the guy says words I can’t repeat. He moves away yelling and screaming things like … you’re gonna kill women.”
Giuliani further addressed the incident on Facebook. “I got hit as if a boulder hit me,” Giuliani claimed. “It knocked me forward a step or two, it didn’t knock me down, but it hurt tremendously.”
Giuliani said the slap caused lasting pain in his shoulder and that he struggled to sleep that night due to the pain, NBC News reported. However, the footage prompted skepticism on social media.
Dan McLaughlin, a senior writer for the conservative editorial magazine The National Review, commented on Twitter, “This is assault in a very technical legal sense of an aggressive, unwanted touching, but it’s not assault in the way ordinary people talk. Politically, this is flailing.”
Tim Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, tweeted, “Surprised @RudyGiuliani survived this brutal assault. Glad the cops got involved here.”
Sports commentator Keith Olbermann commented, “Breaking: Rudy Giuliani slapped in a supermarket on Staten Island. Or, as it will be reported later by Right Wing media: TERRORIST ASSASSINATION INSURRECTIONIST SLAP ATTACK AGAINST AMERICA’S DRUNKEN MAYOR.”
Andrew Giuliani released a statement condemning the incident. “The assault on my father, America’s mayor, was over politics. We will not be intimidated by left-wing attacks. As governor I will stand up for law and order so that New Yorkers feel safe again.”