Hate Crimes Unit nabs a convicted felon who broke a gay man’s upper cheekbone
The police have arrested Joseph Myers, 20, of Queens on charges of punching a gay man in the face after the defendant objected to the victim kissing another man.
The evening of September 27 was routine enough.
In a manner that gay men in New York City have perhaps come to take for granted, around 2:30 a.m. two men kissed goodnight on a corner in the East Village, after having been on a date. One man began to pull away and was about to hail a passing taxi.
“That’s fucking disgusting,” a passerby said.
“That’s no more disgusting than you kissing your girlfriend,” responded Nick Day, one of the gay men standing on 13th Street that night.
In a recent interview, Day recounted what next happened.
Myers, who was in the company of another man and two young women, appeared ready to fight, said Day. “He was 12 feet away. He appeared totally enraged. It was as if he was really pissed off at me for being gay.”
As Day recounted it, he wanted to address the insult and then be done with it. He felt aggravated that a bigot was interrupting his evening.
“He was very much all over the place,” said Day, who at the time of a November 4 interview was not aware of Myers’ name. “He approached me and was saying things like ‘You’re gross, you’re a fag.” Then, Myers challenged Day.
“He said, ‘You wanna go?’ like fight,” said Day. “‘No, I don’t want to go,’ I said.”
Day’s date and Myers’ companion, whom Day described as being taller than Myers, intervened between the two men.
“The girls were yelling at him that they wanted to go,” Day recalled. “I wasn’t going to fight him. I was just really, really angry that he thought he could just walk up to me and yell that.”
Day turned away briefly from Myers and when he turned back to face him, Myers reached over the man Day had been kissing and landed a blow on Day’s face.
“I was sucker punched,” said Day, who remembers his face went numb. There was swelling that immediately closed his right eye. The punch had fractured Day’s upper right cheekbone just below his eye socket.
Myers immediately fled along with his three companions.
Day’s friend called the police who quickly responded. Shortly thereafter, Day was transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital in an ambulance.
“The whole time I am thinking what an aggravation this is. Here’s this guy and he’s young and stupid and I was annoyed by that because I figured I am in New York City and I have always felt comfortable here.”
More than a month after the incident, Day’s face appears to be recuperating, although a deep purple bruise surrounds his lower right eye.
“My impression afterwards was that he was an out-of-towner,” said Day who still seems to be amazed that on a New York City street he was gay-bashed. “Had I been kissing a girl, he would have just walked by.”
A Manhattan resident, Day is a Texas native who moved to New York eight months ago for a job offer. The middle child of three, the young man recently visited his family and found that he needed to reassure his parents that New York City is a safe place.
As he entered his apartment on the morning of September 27 after an all night hospital stay, Day’s phone rang. “It was the police and a detective wanted to speak to me.” Later on, a member of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force visited Day.
Det. Faisal Khan said that a Good Samaritan who had witnessed the assault followed Myers and his friends to their car after they fled. The witness got the license plate number on the car and reported it to police. Myers was arrested after surrendering to police in the company of an attorney after Khan began asking questions of the car’s owner about who had been in it the night of the incident.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney said that prosecutors are charging Myers with a hate crimes assault, which qualifies as a felony. New York State law provides for increased sentencing upon conviction for bias-related crimes. Because Myers was on parole for a previous robbery case, it is likely that a conviction will result in some jail time. After his arrest, Myers was released on his own recognizance.
Recently, Day identified Myers in a police lineup. “I was a little shaky at first,” said Day. “His attorney was there. The minute I saw him, it all came back to me.”
New York’s Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project has been helping Day. “AVP has been amazing,” said Day, who has discusses his concerns about his upcoming court appearances with an agency counselor. “I feel very comfortable with him.”