The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Grocery worker’s charges reduced after video of encounter with Giuliani

The former New York mayor lambasted Staten Island prosecutors for downgrading the charges

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, right, joins his son, Andrew Giuliani, a Republican candidate for New York governor, during a news conference on June 7. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

This story has been updated.

Rudy Giuliani was mingling with people at a Staten Island grocery store on Sunday when an employee approached the former New York mayor, slapped him on the back and called him a “scumbag,” according to police.

Now, that ShopRite employee, 39-year-old Staten Island resident Daniel Gill, has been charged with third-degree assault and menacing, both misdemeanors, as well as second-degree harassment, according to court records. Gill had been charged with assaulting someone over the age of 65, a felony, immediately following the incident. Prosecutors reduced the charges Monday, the New York Times reported.

Gill, who appeared in court on Monday, has been released from custody, according to the Times. He is due back in court in August, court records show.

The Legal Aid Society, which says it is representing Gill, issued a statement Monday calling the charges “inconsistent with existing law.”

“Our client merely patted Mr. Giuliani, who sustained nothing remotely resembling physical injuries, without malice to simply get his attention, as the video footage clearly showed,” the legal aid group said. Gill spent more than a day in custody, according to the group.

Giuliani, who was former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.

Speaking on “The Curtis Sliwa Show” after the incident, Giuliani said he was at ShopRite campaigning for his son, a Republican candidate for New York governor, when “all of a sudden I feel a shot on my back — like somebody shot me.”

“I went forward, but luckily I didn’t fall down,” Giuliani said. “Lucky, I’m a 78-year-old who’s in pretty good shape, because if I wasn’t, I’d have hit the ground and probably cracked my skull.”

Giuliani then claimed the worker referenced abortion rights, allegedly adding: “You’re going to kill women. You’re going to kill women.”

Surveillance video of the incident, published by the New York Post, shows a man in a billed cap walk up from behind Giuliani and touch his back. A woman immediately put her arm around Giuliani as the man walked past the former mayor and his supporters and down another aisle.

The video has no sound, but a New York Police Department spokesman said Gill asked, “What’s up, scumbag?” when he approached Giuliani. The incident took place just before 3:30 p.m., and Giuliani was not seriously injured, the spokesman said.

How lightly the man appears to have made contact with Giuliani in the video called the former mayor’s account into question.

During live-streamed comments on Monday, Giuliani lambasted Staten Island prosecutors for downgrading the charges. He reiterated that the contact could have caused him to fall.

In a statement to The Post, a ShopRite representative acknowledged that an incident took place between Giuliani and a store associate at a Staten Island location.

“Store security observed the incident, reacted swiftly and the police were notified,” the representative said. “We have zero tolerance for aggression toward anyone.”

Giuliani told the Times that he took the employee’s remarks to be “political,” a reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had protected a constitutional right to abortion. Police did not specify whether the suspect referenced abortion or the Supreme Court decision.

Throughout his political career, Giuliani has wavered on the issue of abortion rights. On his weekly radio show Sunday before the grocery store incident, Giuliani said he was “adamantly” against abortion during a discussion on the Supreme Court decision.

But as New York mayor, Giuliani was a supporter of abortion rights, even signing a proclamation celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Tampa Bay Times and CNN reported. Moreover, Giuliani donated to Planned Parenthood at least six times in the 1990s, Politico reported in 2007, when Giuliani was seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

It was during that campaign that Giuliani’s stance on the issue came under scrutiny, as the candidate said repeatedly that he personally opposed abortion but believed it was an “emotional decision that should ultimately be left up to the woman,” his spokeswoman told Politico at the time.

Amid pressure, Giuliani decided to firmly support abortion rights during the campaign, making him an outlier among his Republican opponents, the Times reported.

On his show Sunday, Giuliani called his prior stance “very childish and immature” and said that he has gone through a “torturous intellectual and emotional and moral situation with abortion,” now saying he is against the procedure.

Even as Giuliani faces scrutiny for his unfounded claims of fraud following the 2020 presidential election results, he is using his political brand in certain enclaves of New York to help boost his son’s bid for governor.

Andrew Giuliani is test-driving his father’s legacy in New York

Andrew Giuliani, who praised the Supreme Court decision Friday, condemned the alleged assault on his father in a tweet Sunday night, adding that it was “over politics.”

“We will not be intimidated by left wing attacks,” he wrote. “As governor I will stand up for law and order so that New Yorkers feel safe again.”

Loading...