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Butcher accused in noose incident blames fired employee
A famed West Village butcher accused of handing a noose to a black delivery man claims he didn’t make the racist gesture — and now blames a fired employee.
Joe Ottomanelli, of Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market on Bleecker Street, sent the longtime employee packing this week, his lawyer, Ron Kuby, told the Post Tuesday.
“Joe Ottomanelli on Monday terminated the employee who had given a makeshift noose to a delivery person,” Kuby said. “Ottomanelli stores have zero tolerance for racism. It’s unfortunate that this ugly and stupid act occurred.”
The incident occurred April 4 at the market on Bleeker Street, where Victor Sheppard had been making deliveries for months.
Sheppard, 36, insisted that the 60-year-old white butcher handed him the noose, fashioned out of yellow rope.
“Here’s your present,” Sheppard said the business owner told him. “You can use it when you’re stressed and need to end it all.”
During a prior delivery, Ottomanelli allegedly cracked to Sheppard, “If this was years ago, you’d be on the back of the bus.”
Sheppard reported the incident to the local police precinct, and the NYPD’s hate crimes task force initiated an investigation.
Meanwhile, Sheppard shared his feelings about the exchange at the National Action Network’s Harlem headquarters Saturday.
“Yeah, other co-workers were there. They just laughed along with it. It’s a laughing situation over there,” Sheppard said. “They just laughed at me,…after they gave me the noose they was just laughing at me and I felt threatened.”
But Kuby said “the problem has been rectified” now that the employee has been fired.
Kuby wouldn’t share the name of the employee. Nor could he say with certainty who made the “joke” about the noose.
“My investigation has not gotten to the point of determining every word that everybody spoke,” he said. “The point is the guy got fired.”
The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is still investigating, a police source said.