May 17, 2008
Shop Owner Is Charged With Assault
By DARYL KHAN
A Brooklyn store owner who struck a 15-year-old boy in the head with a hammer was indicted on felony assault charges on Friday, although his lawyer said he acted in self-defense.
The store owner, Salah Ahmed, owner of Munchies Deli in Brownsville, hit the boy, Bunkless Bovian, 15, on April 13 after seeing a security monitor in the rear of the store showing the youth and two friends up front attacking an employee, according to Gary Conroy, one of Mr. Ahmed’s lawyers.
Mr. Ahmed was arrested and charged the next day.
Mr. Conroy said the grand jury indicted the wrong person, since the youths were at fault for attacking Mr. Ahmed’s employee, Hazam Kassim, 19, kicking him, punching him and slashing him with a box cutter.
Mr. Conroy said security videotape of the confrontation, which the grand jurors saw, would prove that Mr. Ahmed was innocent.
“Mr. Ahmed is not a vigilante,” Mr. Conroy said outside the eighth-floor courtroom in Brooklyn Criminal Court moments after learning of the indictment. “Mr. Ahmed was a victim in this case. And when you look at the entire videotape and you see Mr. Ahmed assaulted even after his nephew was assaulted, he did show remarkable restraint given the circumstances.”
Mr. Conroy added, “If this isn’t a case of self-defense, I don’t know what is.”
Bunkless’s skull was fractured and he was placed in a medically induced coma. He remained hospitalized for five days.
The boy, who lives in public housing near the store, is a talented basketball player at Intermediate School 323 and in youth leagues, his family has said.
Mr. Ahmed, 36, was also indicted on additional assault charges and a weapons possession charge. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He had been arraigned on $150,000 bail, but that has been reduced to $35,000.
David Epstein, who is also representing Mr. Ahmed, said: “We weren’t cocky, but we assumed this case was going to be dropped. We thought it was a no-brainer.”