New details emerge over brawl between Houston women and NYC hostess over vaccine requirement

Attorney Justin Moore said the confrontation was 'mutual combat,' while the restaurant says nothing suggests race was an issue

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Monday, September 20, 2021
New details emerge in NYC brawl involving Houston women
New claims are emerging about a fight believed to have started over COVID vaccine proof. This is what attorneys for both sides are saying.

NEW YORK -- New details have emerged about a brawl outside a popular New York City restaurant between several out-of-town visitors, who were from Houston, and an employee over the restaurant's requirement that the guests show proof of vaccination.

Attorneys for Carmine's and for three women from Texas who are facing charges in connection with the melee last Thursday told the New York Times that the women had provided documentation of COVID-19 vaccinations but that the altercation escalated after two men who joined the party didn't have proof.

The restaurant hostess, who is white, seen being attacked in a video shot by an onlooker suggested the vaccination cards were fake, spoke condescendingly to the group, who are Black, and used a racial slur, Justin Moore, an attorney for one of the women, Dr. Kaeita Rankin, 44, told the Times.

The dispute was "mutual combat," Moore said.

Police identified the other two women as 21-year old Tyonnie Rankin of Humble and 49-year-old Sally Rechelle Lewis, of Houston, the Times reports.

Carolyn Richmond, an attorney representing Carmine's, denied the claim, writing in an email to The Times that "nothing about this incident suggests race was an issue."

Surveillance footage reviewed by The Times showed the three women being ushered inside the restaurant after showing documentation outside. It showed three men showing up several minutes later but only one showing a vaccination card. The fight broke out shortly after.

According to police, the three women punched the hostess repeatedly and broke her necklace, leaving the 24-year-old bruised and scratched. She was taken to a hospital and later released.

The women face charges of misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief and are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 5.

New York City's rule requiring proof of vaccination for indoor restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues has been in effect since Aug. 17 but only began being enforced in the past week.

A Black Lives Matter activist told The Times a demonstration was planned outside the restaurant on Monday to protest the treatment of Black patrons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ORIGINAL STORY: Video shows NYC brawl involving Houstonians, allegedly over COVID vaccine proof

In the wake of an attack in New York City over proof of COVID vaccination, one of the Houston women involved in the attack spoke on the phone with ABC13, claiming innocence over the viral incident.