A new wrinkle in the violent scuffle involving Senator Mark Grisanti and his wife at a Seneca casino has emerged with alleged details accusing the upstate senator as the original aggressor.
The bizarre incident erupted on Saturday at the Seneca Niagara Casino where Grisanti and his wife Maria were attending a diabetes fundraising event their daughter was scheduled to perform in.
According to Grisanti's account, he overheard a verbal altercation between two men and attempted to break up the argument from escalating. When one of the men demanded to know Grisanti's identity, he accused the senator of hating the Seneca Nation and then proceeded to violently punch him, with another woman joining in with punches to Grisanti head. Grisanti told reporters two women then attacked his wife by throwing her onto the ground, repeatedly slamming her head to the floor.
But several witnesses are now coming forth with a conflicting account that pins Grisanti as the initial aggressor who made offensive racial remarks against a black security guard employed at the casino.
A former member of the Senecas' Tribal Council who was at the event told the Buffalo News:
The allegation of racist remarks was made by businessman Ross L. John Sr., a former member of the Senecas' Tribal Council. John said he is certain that he heard Grisanti "at least twice" yelling a harsh racial epithet at a black security officer who had subdued him.
"I was maybe 15 feet away. I heard it," John said. "[Grisanti] yelled, 'Don't you know who the [expletive] I am, you [expletive]?"
John said he is "certain" he heard Grisanti using racial epithets and will tell police that if he becomes a witness in the case.
Grisanti said he wasn't concerned with the conflicting reports and insisted, "What I said when I had everyone over to my house that was the truth...I went in there and I was making these sweeping motions to clear people out. If somebody got hit under any circumstance whatsoever that's too bad, because my wife was on the bottom of that pile. And I would do it again in a heartbeat."
The New York Times notes that the brawl comes as poor timing for both parties, as Grisanti is already facing a tough re-election campaign as he was one of the four Republicans to break from traditional party lines and voted for same-sex marriage in 2011.
As for the Seneca Nation, pre-existing conflicts have created tension over tribal territory and casino gaming.
Watch below for a video caught of the melee: