Duncan Osbourne reports at Gay City News:
Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years post-release supervision for assaulting two men in the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea in 2015.
“The jury rejected your claim of self-defense,” said Arlene Goldberg, the judge who heard the case in Manhattan Supreme Court, on September 15. “That you did not cause serious physical injury to them was only a matter of luck.”
El-Amin faced five low-level felony assault charges in a May 5, 2015 altercation he had with Jonathan Snipes, 33, and his then-partner, Ethan York-Adams, 26, in the restaurant, which is located at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street.
The prosecution’s case, which included several videos, was that the fight was divided into three parts and the 42-year-old was not charged with any crime in part one, where he was defending himself from Snipes, who started the fight by attacking El-Amin.
In parts two and three, El-Amin was continuing to fight when Snipes had effectively surrendered, the prosecution said. El-Amin always faced the greatest jeopardy from his actions in part three, where he can be seen hitting the two men on their heads with a heavy wooden chair as they stand with their backs to him.
El-Amin claimed he was defending himself in the altercation with the much smaller Jonathan Snipes at the Chelsea restaurant. Indeed, surveillance video showed Snipes starting the fight bu hitting El-Amin with a canvass bag. But El-Amin, according to prosecutors, continued the fight after Snipes had given up. Additional video showed El-Amin “hitting the two men on their heads with a heavy wooden chair as they stand with their backs to him walking away to the horror of on-lookers and then fled the scene.
“The case boils down to this defendant took it too far,” said prosecutor Leah Saxtein. “He decided to get revenge. … He used a dangerous instrument to strike them in the most vulnerable part of the human body.”
El-Amin and some supporters attempted to frame the incident that El-Amin was a victim of racism. Waddie G of the black entertainment website the G-List Society shared social media posts accusing Snipes and York-Adams of exploiting “white privilege” which was picked up by other various QPOC groups including the former LGBT equality group GetEQUAL. . El-Amin who himself spoke at the hearing, described his accusers as “drunk white men who felt they were entitled to swing on me.”
But the judge did not agree. “I know that you want to cast this, your supporters as well, as an issue about race,” Goldberg said. “I don’t see it that way. … When you picked up that chair, that was a criminal act that cannot be excused.”
El-Amin’s lawyer had sought the minimum sentence, three and a half years, for the charges on which he was convicted. The prosecution sought 12 years plus five years of post-release supervision.
El-Amin has a previous record of 29 felony convictions across several states.