The restaurateur who last month accused Town of Tonawanda police of harassment and racial profiling was arrested Tuesday on a felony charge of strangulation and misdemeanor assault against one of his employees.
Jimmy Ying, the owner of Ying’s Wings and Things at Sheridan Drive and Eggert Road, attacked the worker during an argument, according to Capt. Joseph F. Carosi.
“We received an anonymous call that there was a disturbance at Ying’s last night at about 10:15 p.m. The patrol officers got there and went into the establishment and were able to find a victim of an assault. He’s a 26-year-old employee,” Carosi said.
The attack occurred when Ying asked the employee, who was identified late Wednesday as Kyle Cantrell, to perform a task and he declined, according to a statement from the worker.
“The employee told officers, ‘I was working when Jimmy Ying wanted me to do something.’ The employee told Ying, ‘It can wait’ and, according to the victim, this apparently angered Ying, who put him in a chokehold from behind and choked him to the point of unconsciousness momentarily,” the captain said.
The worker, who landed on the floor, suffered a cut to the back of his head requiring stitches at a local hospital, where he was treated and later released, police said.
Meanwhile, a restaurant employee reached late Wednesday said the Eggert Road operation would close by the end of the month and relocate to Niagara Falls Boulevard, where delivery and takeout will be offered from K Café, a new Korean taco restaurant owned by Ying’s ex-wife.
Since much of Ying’s business comes from delivery and takeout to college students, it makes sense to move from the large, “underutilized” space, said the employee, who asked not to be identified. Ying’s alcohol license at the Eggert Road location expired in November 2011, according to State Liquor Authority records.
An unidentified employee at K Café also confirmed the plan to merge.
Ying, a native of China also known as Haibo Jiang, appeared handcuffed and shoeless late Wednesday before Town Justice Daniel T. Cavarello, who entered not- guilty pleas on Ying’s behalf. The second-degree strangulation charge is a felony, and the second-degree assault charge is a misdemeanor.
Cavarello scheduled a felony hearing for Monday and issued an order of protection for Cantrell.
Ying, who did not have an attorney with him, was to be released on $5,000 bail. Town police notified the news media of Ying’s arrest with a news release Wednesday morning.
The Tuesday arrest is the sixth time Ying has been charged by police since Sept. 14. All of the other charges are counts of criminal nuisance and stem from when he started renting part of the restaurant to a promoter for Saturday night parties.
Ying was arrested on a criminal nuisance charge in November after a Cheektowaga man was wounded by gunfire in the parking lot outside a non-alcohol DJ party at the restaurant.
Authorities alleged Ying failed to maintain order among his patrons and operated an “unruly premise.”
Ying complained the following day at a Town Board meeting that police did not want black people in the town.
In addition to Ying voicing complaints, six African-American employees, including delivery drivers and cooks, spoke in support of their boss, saying that they had been unfairly targeted for traffic stops and harassed.
Police Chief Anthony J. Palombo had denied the allegations.
Tracey Lukasik, executive director of the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that Ying is a member of the business group who sometimes sends over pizzas for the Chamber’s board meetings.
“From my experience with him personally, he’s always been professional and cordial,” she said. I’ve never witnessed any odd or aggressive behavior. He was always nice to us, but it was minimal interaction.”
The Chamber sometimes receives complaints about town businesses, but Lukasik said no one has complained about Ying’s, which also has a location in Depew and is famed for its inexpensive and wide-ranging menu.
Ying’s has run afoul of health codes, however, a review of government records shows.
During 11 inspections of Ying’s Eggert Road location this year, the Erie County Department of Health found seven “critical” violations and 43 “noncritical” violations, according to Food Facility Inspection reports on the county Health Department website.
The department defines “critical” as a violation that “could directly contribute to or imminently cause illness or injury.”
Most recently, Ying’s was found during an inspection Nov. 18 – a day after the shooting – to lack a thermometer used to determine if food is cooked to the proper temperature, which is a critical violation.
The violation was corrected by the time a follow-up inspection was conducted two days later and no other violations were found.
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