Victor Sheppard told the New York Post that Joseph Ottomanelli handed him a noose fashioned out of yellow rope.
“Here’s your present,” Sheppard said the New York City butcher told him. “You can use it when you’re stressed and need to end it all.”
Sheppard, 36, who’s black, reported the April incident to the NYPD, the Post reported. The department’s hate crimes task force opened an investigation, the newspaper said.
Ottomanelli, 61, the co-owner of Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market in West Village, was charged with a hate crime, the New York Daily News reported. He pleaded guilty in September to disorderly conduct, taking a deal that would end with his conviction being wiped if he didn’t get in any more trouble, according to prosecutors.
Ottomanelli completed community service and a program and was allowed to take a dismissal deal, the Daily News reported on Monday.
But Ottomanelli says he’s innocent.
“Unfortunately, a false accusation has become tantamount to a conviction and perpetual sentence on social media,” Ottomanelli’s lawyer, Ron Kuby, told the Post. “He and his family will continue to serve a diverse community, with zero tolerance for bias, as they have done for over a century,” Kuby said.
The butcher has previously said a disgruntled, fired employee was the one responsible, the Post reported.
Nooses have long been a symbol of bigotry and hatred toward black people. The New York case wasn’t the only noose-related incident to happen last year. In Raleigh, North Carolina, vandals hung a teddy bear from a noose at a high school in May. School officials called it a “deeply offensive” act.
That same month, police said a noose was found in a fraternity house at the University of Maryland in College Park.
Sheppard told the Daily News the incident last spring scarred him.
“I’ve had panic attacks, nightmares, cold sweats ever since,” Sheppard has said.