A woman identified as a New York City hospital worker has been placed on leave pending an investigation after a video went viral that appears to show her trying to take a rental bike from a Black man.
In the video, which circulated widely on Twitter, the woman calls for help and appears to cry, though the woman’s lawyer has since come forward claiming to have receipts that show she was actually the one who rented the bike.
The woman, who is wearing NYC Health + Hospitals scrubs, yells for help while both she and a young man hold the handlebars of a Citi Bike. It’s unclear what happened between the two parties before the recording began.
“This is not your bike,” the man says. The person recording the video also tells her that the bike has already been rented.
“Please help me. Help!” the woman screams over them.
At one point, the woman tells the young man to get off of her, even though he is only holding onto the bike. She takes off her lapel badge, puts it in her backpack and attempts to push the man away from the bike with her body. When it doesn’t work, she snatches the man’s phone, though he quickly grabs it back.
A bystander talking on a phone then approaches and the woman stops yelling for help and appears to break down crying.
“This is my bike. It’s on my account,” the man holding the bike says.
“You’re acting,” the man recording the video says. “She’s fake-crying. Stop fake-crying.”
The bystander tries to get the group of people to reset the bike, but eventually the woman relents and steps away from it.
The video was posted to Twitter on Saturday and has since been viewed 41 million times.
Three days after the video was posted, NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, announced that it had seen the video and put the employee in question on leave, pending a review of the incident. The employee was not identified.
“We are aware of aware of the video involving a health care provider off duty and away from the hospital campus. The incident in the video is disturbing,” the hospital wrote.
“As a health system we are committed to providing an environment for our patients and staff that is free from discrimination of any kind.”
Many online observers branded the woman a “Karen” and accused her of putting the young Black man in a dangerous situation with her behaviour in the video.
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“She grossly tried to weaponize her tears to paint this man as a threat,” wrote civil rights attorney Ben Crump on Twitter. “This is EXACTLY the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past!”
But the woman’s lawyer, Justin Marino, has since issued a statement with her narrative of events.
He wrote that on May 12, a day before the video was posted, his client was leaving a 12-hour shift at the hospital and rented a Citi Bike. A group of five individuals then approached her and pushed the bike, with her on it, back into the docking station, saying that the bike was theirs.
These events were not shown in the video, though Marino sent the New York Post copies of two Citi Bike receipts that he claims exonerates his client.
The Post reported that the receipts were timestamped minutes apart, and the first one shows a bike was taken out and re-locked one minute later.
“This is the bike in question,” Marino claims, “which demonstrates that she did not ‘steal’ the bike from anyone.”
The second receipt reportedly shows that another bike was rented shortly after, which Marino said was the bike his client used to get home after being “heckled and pressured to find a new bike,” by the group.
Global News has not been able to independently verify the claims made by Marino. It’s unclear if the receipts provide enough proof that the bike the woman rented was the one shown in the video.
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