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Reporting by Jason Cherkis
Today, in Room 218 of D.C. Superior Court, the trial of former At-Large Councilmember Harold Brazil lumbered on.
A quick refresher: Brazil’s charges stem from an Oct. 9, 2008, incident at Georgetown tattoo parlor Jinx Proof. After 7 p.m. that night, Brazil entered the shop with two female companions, one of whom went to the back of the parlor to get a tattoo. The other woman tried to go back to check on the tattoo-getting woman but was rebuffed: Only tattoo-getting people can go back there.. Things then got testy, and in no time Brazil was involved in a scuffle with three Jinx Proof employees, who restrained him while the cops were summoned.
Brazil’s side of the story is that the shopkeeper, Francis Peyton, called him a “nigger.” Peyton denies it.
Brazil’s version of events took center-stage in today’s proceedings. In testimony that began at 12:05 p.m., Brazil described the night at the parlor as “like, calm and then…it just exploded.”
The evening began around 5 p.m. when he and his assistant Elena Mirsayapova left work and headed to Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse. There they met up with Petra Nikolow and the party enjoyed two seafood platters and some bread. Brazil reported having two glasses of white wine. They were there for about an hour and a half.
Asked if had enjoyed any beverages prior to the white whine, Brazil said he often enjoys Starbucks coffee and had his last cup that day around 4 p.m.
Nikolow at some point announced she planned to get a tattoo and asked her friends to join her. Brazil, citing work (he had a trial in the morning and another project looming), tried to beg off. Ultimately, he was convinced to join in the trek over to Jinx Proof.
Nikolow headed to the back while both Brazil and Mirsayapova sat on a bench facing M Street, testified the former councilmember, who is 60. He described sitting there as a type of zoning-out, as being lost in his thoughts. Then he heard an awful noise coming from the back.
“It’s like the Texas chainsaw,” Brazil said on the stand. Mirsayapova got up first and headed toward the noise. Brazil said he heard someone shout, “You can’t be here,” which was when his reverie ended.
Making his way toward the back, Brazil said he was stopped before he could see Nikolow. He was concerned for Mirsayapova, “and I said, ‘Leave her alone,’ to which one of the tattoo guy says: ‘Fuck you, nigger.’ I said, ‘What did you call me?'” and then Brazil, according to his testimony, was pushed and then kneed in the back of his legs by another guy. He went on to describe being on the floor and then being lifted up by his neck. “What I was trying to do was to get the guy to stop choking me. I wanted to get the guy off my neck,” Brazil said.
A third guy entered the fray and, according to Brazil, punched his head as if it was “target practice.” “This is why my head looked like Humpty Dumpty,” he said.
Pinned to the ground, he went on, “I couldn’t have beaten a fly. I couldn’t breathe.”
Police intervention was welcome. “I thought those guys are trying to kill me.”
He was taken to Sibley Hospital and treated for injuries to the left side of his head, his jaw, bruises on his leg, bruises on his arm, and neck. He said he had pain in one of his knees for two months.
Prior to Brazil taking the stand, Nikolow revealed the concept that brought her to the parlor in the first place: her name in Arabic, inked to her shoulder, and finished before the melee.
“I was sorry Mr. Brazil came with me,” she said. “If he hadn’t come with me, this would have never happened.”