Bayna El-Amin, 41, turned himself into police at about noon after being on the lam for more than a month since he was accused of uttering homophobic slurs and smashing Jonathan Snipes, 32, and Ethan York-Adams, 25, over their heads with a chair on May 5 at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea.
He was charged with three counts of second-degree assault and two counts for attempted assault, according to his criminal complaint.
At the hearing, his lawyer, Raoul Zaltzberg, admitted that El-Amin, who he described as a gay activist, had swung the chair at the couple, but said his client was retaliating from an earlier attack.
“My client in no way was the original aggressor,” Zaltzberg said. “My client came in to have dinner and was attacked.”
One of the men hit El-Amin three times, his lawyer said.
Prosecutors agreed that El-Amin was provoked, but said that his reaction was excessive.
“The defendant took it to an entire other level,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Leah Saxtein said.
She described how El-Amin had stomped on the head of one of the two victims repeatedly, then whacked the two men over the head with a chair.
Snipes, in an interview with DNAinfo New York after the brawl, denied ever throwing a punch and claimed that El-Amin had called he and his partner, "White f----ts."
A cellphone video of the fight that went viral shows a chaotic scene with the two men wrestling with El-Amin on the ground. After both sides had been separated, El-Amin was recorded bringing a chair down over both men's heads.
“After everything was completely broken up, the defendant picked up a wooden chair and bashed two people,” Saxtein said.
A second video, Zaltzberg said, taken by the restaurant's security camera, shows Snipes and York-Adams fighting with each other in an altercation that spilled over to his client’s table.
“The way he was portrayed was awful especially when his side of the story wasn’t told,” Zaltzberg said.
In addition to painting El-Amin as the victim, Zaltzberg also said El-Amin has been a state-certified HIV counselor since 2010, a volunteer with the gay healthcare group, GMHC, and a youth mentor at Hetrick-Martin Institute, a school for LGBT youth.