A grocery-store worker who slapped Rudy Giuliani on the back on Staten Island on Sunday was briefly charged with assaulting someone over 65, a second-degree felony. But by Monday afternoon, the worker, 39-year-old Daniel Gill, was able to walk out of court on his own recognizance — still wearing his ShopRite uniform — after his charges were downgraded to third-degree assault, third-degree menacing, and second-degree harassment.
In numerous media appearances (with undoubtedly more to come), Giuliani has claimed the slap could easily have killed him, and he attempted to tie the incident to his son’s bid for governor of New York.
On Sunday afternoon, Gill approached Giuliani at a ShopRite store on Staten Island and clapped the ex-mayor and election denier on the back as he stood with a group of people. Per the NYPD, Gill addressed Giuliani with the words “What’s up, scumbag?”
Giuliani told the New York Times the man had also said, “You’re going to kill women, you’re going to kill women,” a possible reference to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade — though Giuliani is more in the news these days for spreading baseless and harmful election conspiracy theories.
Describing the incident on Curtis Sliwa’s radio show later in the day, Giuliani described the moment of impact in dramatic terms.
“All of a sudden, I feel a shot on my back — like somebody shot me,” he said. “I went forward, but luckily I didn’t fall down. Lucky I’m a 78-year-old who’s in pretty good shape, because if I wasn’t, I’d have hit the ground and probably cracked my skull.”
In a virtual press conference on the incident, Giuliani said, “I got hit as if a boulder hit me. It knocked me forward a step or two; it didn’t knock me down, but it hurt tremendously.”
In another virtual press conference held Monday, Giuliani said the short clip making the rounds online and on the airwaves is “a little deceptive” and emphasized that the police charged Gill with second-degree assault after viewing the whole recording. Giuliani revealed that he was later told the police were downgrading the charges.
“I don’t care about me. I can take care of myself. This little punk is gonna hurt me? The Mafia tried to kill me twice,” Giuliani said. “I worry about this little punk for you — because if he can come and hit me, a 70-year-old, next thing you know, he’s going to hit you!”
Giuliani pointed out how vulnerable the elderly are to injury from falling, mentioning an uncle who died after such an incident.
“What the hell is this D.A. doing letting him out of jail?” he asked. “Between now and the next time we catch him, who knows how many more people he’s gonna hit.”
Giuliani had previously made clear that he wants Gill to be prosecuted, saying on Monday, “I believe you let Mr. Gill go, a lot more of these crazy pro-choice people are going to start attacking people.”
Giuliani was at the ShopRite campaigning for his son, Andrew, who is running in New York’s Republican gubernatorial primary, which wraps up on Tuesday. In a statement on Sunday, Andrew portrayed the episode as a sign of both creeping lawlessness in New York and a newly dangerous environment for conservatives.
“Innocent people are attacked in today’s New York all of the time,” it read in part. “This particular incident hit very close to home. The assault on my father, America’s Mayor, was over politics. We will not be intimidated by left-wing attacks.”
When asked about the incident at an unrelated press conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Eric Adams seemed unconvinced that Giuliani’s claim was accurate.
“I looked at the video, and someone needs to remind former mayor Giuliani that falsely reporting a crime is a crime,” Adams said.
He called Giuliani’s retelling of the situation “irresponsible for a former mayor.”
“Now, what if we didn’t have the video? This person would’ve been accused with a serious crime when all he did was pat the guy on the back,” Adams said. “You can’t do sensationalism to carry out your own agenda, and you can’t use the police to carry out your own agenda.”
Asked by the New York Post about Adams’s comments, Giuliani said, “Tell Adams to go fuck himself. What a fucking scumbag.”
“Eric Adams doesn’t know what he’s fucking talking about. I didn’t file the complaint. His police department filed the report. The police department did an investigation. The police interviewed witnesses,” Giuliani added. “Let him talk to his police department. He probably can’t do that. The cops probably won’t talk to him. They don’t trust him. He must’ve been a bad cop.”