A woman accused of stabbing a tourist at a posh Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, puncturing her lung, has told cops she does not remember the attack – and her parents told the Daily News she does not only defended herself after being hit.
Joan Thompson was celebrating her 41st birthday with her cousin by visiting Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on W. 51st St. for the first time Friday night.
The 24-year-old victim, eating with his wife as part of a large party at another table and a stranger in Thompson, required surgery after he was stabbed in the back in an attack, prosecutors say, partially filmed.
Police say Thompson became angry Friday night after the victim’s wife made sarcastic remarks about the service and servers at the W. 51st St. steakhouse.
Video taken by another patron showed Thompson standing on a chair or bench, clutching the steak knife and screaming, Assistant District Attorney Samantha McCarthy said during Thompson’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Saturday.
She can be seen repeatedly plunging the knife downward, and the blade connected once to the victim, cutting through the flesh of her back and piercing her lung, according to prosecutors.
But Thompson’s father claimed his daughter was punched in the face and harassed as chaos erupted around her, based on what his daughter and cousin told him.
Restaurant workers who did not want to be named but spoke to witnesses told the Daily News that diners at the victim’s table insulted the suspect and her cousin and punched the suspect before stabbing her. They insulted the clothes of Thompson and her cousin, calling them prostitutes, the workers claim.
“That’s exactly how it started,” Carlos Stapleton, 84, said on Sunday. “These people left their table to come to my daughter’s table to start harassing them for nothing. He put his hands on her, I’m told.
He said another woman from the group at the next table also approached and started harassing his daughter.
“My daughter said to them, ‘We are not here to fight, we came here to have dinner,'” he said. “My daughter has had the worst and she is the victim protecting herself.”
The woman who approached Thompson threatened her, saying, ‘I’m going to break your nose,'” Thompson’s mother, Barbara Stapleton, 64, claims.
“If she’s protecting herself, why is she in jail and they’re not in jail?” said the mother. “It’s cruel to me.”
Thompson, is charged with assault, was posted $40,000 bond. Prosecutors argued that although she has no criminal record, the fact that she fled the restaurant indicates that she poses a flight risk.
“She’s not doing well,” Carlos Stapleton said of his daughter. “She’s very upset because this has never happened before. She’s never had any issues at all.
Thompson fled but police were able to identify her from the table reservation and arrest her later that night, prosecutors said.
She told police she remembered being at the restaurant and having an argument, but did not remember the stabbing itself, McCarthy said. But Thompson acknowledged that she was the woman in the video and appeared to show her stabbing the victim, according to the criminal complaint.
The victim, who police say is from Milford, Mass., was released from New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell after surgery, prosecutors said.
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Thompson’s mother said she told her daughter about Rikers Island.
“She said, ‘Mom, I didn’t want to do it but I was scared,'” the mother said. “She is very scared. I don’t think they should have taken him to Rikers. I’m mad she’s at Rikers.
The family was still trying to raise enough money to have her released on Sunday.
“It was unfair. For her being a victim, yes it was unfair,” her father said of the bail amount. “It’s tough. It hit everyone unexpectedly. It’s hard on the family. »
Thompson is a mother of two young children and a Costco supervisor.
“Joanie is not a violent person at all,” her mother said. “She’s the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet and I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother. Everyone who meets my baby says she’s a beautiful person.
With Emma Seiwell
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