A Brooklyn woman is breathing a sigh of relief on Wednesday after prosecutors decided to dismiss all the charges against her related to a nail salon brawl.
"It's sad it took so long, but I'm definitely relieved they dropped the charges," Christina Thomas told Gothamist outside her Flatbush home.
Thomas, 21, her grandmother Thelma Medley, and another relative were attacked by multiple salon workers of New Red Apple Nails (also listed as 888 Happy Red Apple Nails) on August 3rd. The ensuing brawl, which was captured on the store's surveillance cameras and another customer's cell phone, allegedly started because of Thomas's refusal to pay for a botched $5 eyebrow wax.
The footage went viral and resulted in several days of protests outside the still-shuttered 1426 Nostrand Avenue business.
Community organizers, led by Carol Branch, called for the predominantly African-American community to cease spending money at Asian nail salons. An online petition collected close to 10,000 signatures calling for Governor Cuomo to permanently shut down the business.
The demonstrators also called for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to investigate arresting all of the employees involved in the fight and to drop the charges against Thomas.
On Wednesday morning, DA Gonzalez announced that prosecutors were dismissing all the charges against Thomas and would continue investigating the incident.
"After reviewing all the evidence, interviewing more than a dozen witnesses and analyzing video footage, we dismissed the charges today against Ms. Thomas in the interest of justice," said Gonzalez in a statement.
To date only one salon staffer, HuiYue Zheng, 32, was charged with misdemeanor assault for beating Thomas on the back with the wooden stick, according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Zheng faces up to a year on Rikers Island.
Branch is currently planning a protest leading up to Labor Day calling for the arrest of the other workers.
"While we got justice for Christina—we will celebrate that—we will continue to protest to make sure nothing like this happens again," said Branch.
Update: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adam told Gothamist, "I appreciate District Attorney Gonzalez and Judge Perlmutter for their thoughtful and ongoing investigation into the assault earlier this month at the New Red Apple Nails salon. The video I reviewed, shortly after it went viral, was deeply disturbing and unacceptable. The district attorney promised me he would thoroughly review the video and other evidence in the case, and the dropping of charges against Ms. Thomas is justice in action. I have spoken with family representatives in the days and weeks following the ordeal they've faced, and I sincerely hope that this news helps them and our greater Flatbush community heal."
"The Thomas family, advocates, and our community, we all stand for justice. That is why I welcome Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez's decision to drop the charges against Christina Thomas," State Senator Jesse Hamilton, who previously expressed a desire for an apology from the salon's owner as well as "more arrests," said to Gothamist. "We must continue to demand dignity and respect for every member of our shared communities."
Christina Carrega is a Brooklyn native who dedicated her journalism career to telling stories surrounding the criminal justice system. When Christina's not reporting hard news, she writes for a lifestyle website she co-founded called 32Letter.com and enjoys traveling.