NEW YORK (AP) — A man who spent a night in jail for smacking Rudy Giuliani on the back and calling him a “scumbag” is suing him and several New York City police officers for false arrest and defamation.
Daniel Gill brought the federal lawsuit in Manhattan court on Wednesday, accusing Giuliani of spinning a tale of political violence from an act of harmless heckling. He says members of the NYPD went along with the deception despite video clearly disproving the account.
The lawsuit is the second filed this week against Giuliani. On Monday, a woman who said she previously worked for Giuliani filed a lawsuit in New York accusing him of coercing her into sex and withholding nearly $2 million in unpaid wages. Giuliani “vehemently” denied the allegations through a spokesperson.
Giuliani made headlines last June after claiming he was attacked by a supermarket employee in Staten Island during a campaign stop for his son, Andrew, who was running for New York governor.
He said an irate man accused him of wanting to kill women, then hit him in the back so hard he felt “like somebody shot me.” Gill, who had no criminal record, was arrested on charges of felony assault.
Surveillance video of the incident soon appeared to undercut Giuliani’s story. It showed Gill briskly walking by Giuliani and smacking him lightly on the back with an open palm. Giuliani appeared unfazed by the incident.
Body-camera footage obtained by Gill’s attorney also shows Giuliani acknowledging to officers that he didn’t suffer any injuries. He urged them to make an arrest anyway, citing his own experience as the former mayor of New York City.
“I need a police car to put him in handcuffs and arrest him and put him in jail, which is what I would’ve done if I was mayor, and that’s why you had no crime when I was mayor, and that’s why we’re one of the most crime-ridden cities in America now,” Giuliani said, while sitting in the back of a campaign van.
“The next guy he hits may not be as big and healthy as me, and he may knock him to the ground and kill him,” he continued.
Gill spent 21 hours in jail following his arrest. The charges were later downgraded to a misdemeanor, then ultimately dismissed.
Ted Goodman, a communications advisor to Giuliani, said the lawsuit should be dismissed because police made their own decision to arrest Gill.
“An unbiased observer will see this meritless complaint as absurd—with its extraneous political hyperbole, like in paragraph 22 when the attorney felt it (necessary) to refer to the specific area of Staten Island as a 'bastion of white conservatism and Trump support,' ” Goodman said in a statement.
An attorney for Gill, Ron Kuby, said his client faced a barrage of death threats following the incident and lost his long-time job at the supermarket.
“Giuliani’s capacity for punching down, attacking people who are poor or working class, it’s astonishing,” Kuby said. “He’s just a bully.”
The lawsuit demands $2 million in damages. In addition to Giuliani, it names four members of the NYPD and the city of New York.
A spokesperson for the NYPD deferred comment to the city's Law Department, which said it will review the case.