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Steve Buscemi’s alleged attacker is due in court on Thursday to face assault charges

Steve Buscemi attends "The Year Between" premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival at Village East Cinema on June 12, 2022 in New York City. (Dominik Bindl/Getty Images/TNS)

Authorities have arrested and charged the lead suspect accused of punching actor Steve Buscemi in the face two weeks ago on the streets of Manhattan.

Clifton Williams, a 50-year-old unhoused man, is being held on $50,000 cash bail and is set to appear in court Thursday for assaulting two people just minutes apart on May 8 in broad daylight.

Williams was arrested on May 17 and faces charges of third-degree assault with a misdemeanor for attacking a 22-year-old unidentified male and second-degree assault for punching Buscemi, 66, in the face, according to the New York City Police Department. Williams identified himself as the attacker in both incidents, according to a complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Buscemi, a character actor known for films such as Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and TV series such as “Boardwalk Empire,” was standing and looking at his phone when a closed fist suddenly struck him, causing him to fall to the ground, according to authorities. He later sought treatment at Bellevue Hospital for his bloodied and bruised left eye.

Williams faces a felony for assaulting an adult over 65, which carries a two-year minimum sentence in the state of New York. According to NYPD, Williams has no prior record of arrests or jail time and it’s unclear what his mental state was at the time. Buscemi’s publicist decried it as a “random act of violence.”

Statistics from NYPD show that overall crime is down as of April 2024 compared to the same time last year, but misdemeanor assaults have risen, the New York Times reported. And several viral videos of women alleging they were assaulted by strangers while walking in New York City have sparked conversations around public safety.

In late March, Buscemi’s “Boardwalk Empire” co-star Michael Stuhlbarg was hit near Central Park with a rock in the back of the head, though Stuhlbarg performed in the play “Patriots” the next day without incident. Xavier Israel, 27, was arrested and has since been charged with second-degree assault and a felony concerning the battery.

“Saturday Night Live” addressed the random attacks on Stuhlbarg and Buscemi in a skit over the weekend with a mock NYPD press conference. “To everyone watching, I have one important message,” host Jake Gyllenhaal, who played a uniformed police sergeant with a handlebar mustache, said. “Stop punching character actors.”

Buscemi’s publicist told The Times last week that the actor was “OK” following the attack.

There’s no news on whether Buscemi’s injuries have affected his work. His publicist did not immediately respond Monday to a request for further comment.


© 2024 Los Angeles Times

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