Posted on March 1, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Monday, Mar 4 at 6:20 AM
Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl
NEW ORLEANS - A WBOK radio host says he was hospitalized after being beaten by employees of a local tow truck company. Now, he's looking for justice, while tow truck employees say he was trying to provoke them.
With bruises and a broken nose, Vernel Trainor gave a statement to First District police Friday afternoon. The host of the WBOK radio show, Voices of Our Generation, said he was beaten Thursday when he tried to retrieve his car from Mid City Automotive and Towing.
“Just brutally attacked by the owner and his employees for no apparent reason,” said Trainor.
Trainor said it all started in this laundro-mat parking lot on North Broad. He says he was visiting nearby businesses when he realized his car was being towed.
“It was only one minute, I mean literally one minute, I goes out there, and they hook your cars up, he demanded cash. He didn't want to take a credit card, check, anything. He wanted cash, on the spot, to drop the vehicle,” said Trainor.
Trainor had no cash at the time, and his car was hauled off.
There are multiple signs in the parking lot warning that non-customers will be towed. The owner says she strictly enforces the rule. She and the towing company maintain the laundro-mat owner does not collect a percentage of the towing fee, as Trainor suggested.
The owner of this business didn't want to speak on camera but told Eyewitness News off camera she had to call police several times on Trainor after he was towed because he was so irate.
“I just thought it was a scam,” said Trainor.
Trainor said the owner of Mid City towing threatened him when he later called to inquire about the cost. Trainor said when he arrived at the impound lot, the owner told him to leave, then called over several employees, and proceeded to beat Trainor after he left the property.
“It happened so fast, I had about four guys, heavy set guys just pounding on me,” said Trainor.
Paramedics took Trainor to the Tulane University emergency room.
Those at Mid City Towing have a very different story. They say Trainor threatened them, even mentioning names of their family members, and used profanity and racial slurs. They say he became violent when he entered an area for employees only.
“The guy came into the yard, I'm like ‘Sir you got to leave the yard.’ He took a swing at me. He hit me in my face, and I hit him back. He got beat up, that's just what it was, you know, I defended myself,” said tow truck driver Philip Spencer.
Spencer said no one else was involved and the owner actually broke up the fight. Spencer believes Trainor was trying to provoke employees.
Trainor said he was on the phone with police at the time of the attack, and made sure Mid City Towing employees were aware. Eyewitness News is working to obtain a copy of the 911 phone call, which was not readily available Friday.
Trainor said he takes issue with the way police have handled the case.
“When the NOPD officer arrived she treated me as if I was the one who did the assault,” said Trainor. “It was telling at me, I was out of breath. I mean I was totally in no way to kind of give a statement at that time.”
Trainor was dismayed that he had to call the first district police station the next day in order give a written statement, and that police did not seek him out instead.
But according to police, Trainor was hostile and irate and refused to give a statement when they arrived on scene.
Police say they are still investigating the incident.
This isn't the first time Mid City Towing has been in the news.
After the Krewe du Vieux parade, dozens of cars ended up in the company's impound lot after an alleged parking scam near Esplanade and Rampart Streets.