An employee of a Newark restaurant has been charged with punching a customer and knocking him unconscious, police said.
The incident happened around 9 p.m. Oct. 4, according to Lt. Andrew Rubin, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department.
Rubin wouldn’t say where the incident happened, explaining that he doesn’t want to cause problems for the business by publicly naming it, but court documents identify the restaurant as Mad Mac’s, a bar and mac-and-cheese eatery on South College Avenue.
According to court records, the customer and a female friend were inside the bar and then walked outside to smoke cigarettes. On his way out, a hostess “hit his stomach in a flirtatious way” and he responded by tickling her chin, he later told police.
Once the customer and his friend were outside, they were approached by a bartender and several bouncers, who told them they were no longer welcome inside because of the way he touched the hostess.
The customer began arguing with the employees and used a racial slur toward an African-American bouncer, the customer’s friend told police.
The bouncer challenged the customer to a fight, and the two continued to argue.
Moments later, off-duty employee Eric Brittingham pulled up in a minivan. Wearing a shirt reading “F Racism,” Brittingham punched the customer in the side of the face, knocking him to the ground and causing him to lose consciousness, court records allege. The customer lay there motionless for several minutes until he was helped to his friend’s vehicle and driven to a motel where he was staying.
The following day, the customer was still in pain, and the friend drove him to Christiana Hospital. He was diagnosed with a concussion and a hemotoma, which is a pooling of blood against the brain, and rushed into emergency surgery.
The incident wasn’t reported to police until two days after it occurred, when hospital staffers notified authorities they were treating an assault victim.
Detectives went to Mad Mac’s, where they reviewed surveillance footage and interviewed employees. Several employees, including the owner, identified the assailant as Brittingham, a 36-year-old Delaware City resident, court records indicate.
The owner told officers that she was alerted to the incident moments after it occurred and went outside to check on the customer. She “advised she thought [the customer] was dead because he was so still, but he came to a few minutes later,” Detective William Anderson wrote in court documents.
Surveillance footage of the incident shows that the customer and the bouncer were arguing, but the customer was “not actively engaged in any fighting,” when Brittingham punched him, Anderson wrote.
“In looking at the body language of all involved, a fight did not appear to be imminent, as no one was getting into anybody’s face,” Anderson continued, adding that the customer’s head was turned and he didn’t see the punch coming.
On Oct. 9, police located Brittingham driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and arrested him, Rubin said.
Brittingham was charged with first-degree assault and DUI. He was released on $60,000 secured bail.
He has since been fired from Mad Mac’s, according to Rubin.
A manager at Mad Mac’s declined to comment Thursday evening.