The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force has investigated the alleged bias attack that took place near Shi Restaurant early Saturday morning and has determined that the incident was not sparked by hate.
The Hate Crimes unit has turned the investigation over to the local 108 police precinct which is investigating the incident as an assault, according to a well placed police source.
Billie and Jacob James-Vogel, an interracial couple who had just dinned at the Shi Restaurant last Friday night, said that they and a gay friend were attacked outside the restaurant after three men from a nearby car began hurling homophobic and racist slurs.
Shortly after the insults, the couple said they were attacked based on their race. They also claimed that the incident occurred outside Shi Restaurant and the doorman refused to let them back inside.
The restaurant, located at 47-20 Center Blvd, became the focus of several news stories following the alleged hate crime—for not letting the victims of the alleged hate crime back into the restaurant. Many people went on Yelp and Facebook and tried to tear the restaurant’s reputation to shreds.
In a statement, Shih Lee, the owner of Shi Restaurant, said he was saddened by the whole ugly incident and expressed his sympathies for the victims.
However, he said “the surveillance footage confirms our understanding that the incident occurred down the street from the restaurant, away from the premises and not in front as initially reported.”
He said that eyewitnesses confirmed the surveillance footage that the the victims were not randomly attacked – and that Jacob James-Vogel had been asked to leave the restaurant prior to the incident as a result of his disorderly conduct.
Lee said that when he was informed of the scuffle, it was over when he went to door to see what had transpired. At that point several bystanders had already called the police and they were on their way.
He said he was caught completely by surprise when the restaurant became a focus of a news story on Sunday—since he did not know all the details of the incident at that time.