Bronx Man Says Pizzeria Manager Beat Him Unconscious With a Pizza Peel

A Bronx man says he has been turned off pizza for life after a pizzeria manager allegedly beat him with a pizza peel, according to the New York Daily News.

Quevaughn Caruth has filed a lawsuit claiming that Ali Essa, the former manager of La Vera Pizzeria in Manhattan, assaulted him with a peel and rendered him unconscious on March 17. Caruth says he ended up with a busted lip, a gash under his eye and an enduring hatred for pizza.

“My life has totally changed,” Caruth told the Daily News. “I used to love pizza, could eat a whole box by myself, and now even thinking about it upsets me.”

Caruth said he had ordered a chicken and cheese slice, but before he could eat it, an employee of the pizzeria asked him to leave. Caruth said he believed that he was being kicked out because he is black, adding that, after being forced to step outside, the pizzeria employee “called me a stupid N-word.”

According to the Daily News, the violence that followed was captured by a surveillance camera. Essa was reportedly seen attacking Caruth with a pizza peel. Police arrested Essa five days later and charged him with assault.

Essa told the Daily News that Caruth was one of several drunken patrons that he was trying to remove from the shop at closing time. He said he acted in self-defense and denied hitting Caruth with the pizza peel. “I held the thing because he was telling me he’s going to kill me,” Essa said. “I was defending myself. I was protecting my store. But did I hit him in the face with it? No, I didn’t.”

Caruth’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said Essa used the pizza peel as a “weapon” against Caruth. “A peel is a wooden device, which is supposed to be used to take hot pizza out of an oven and not as a weapon, which it was in this attack.”