JERSEY CITY, New Jersey --The Easter Bunny and a man he fought at the Newport Center Mall in Jersey City Sunday appeared in court to face aggravated assault and disorderly conduct charges.
The melee began when a 1-year-old girl slipped from the lap of 22-year-old Kassim Charles, who was dressed as the holiday character. The girl's father, 44-year-old Juan Jimenez-Guerrero, then went after him.
Police say while investigating the fight, they found both men to have outstanding warrants.
The incident happened around 5 p.m. Sunday, as customers were waiting to get their pictures taken with the Easter icon.
*WARNING: Video contains strong language*
Easter bunny throwin the hands @ Newport Lmfaoo pt1 pic.twitter.com/Y7goiuf4Ap— Kevin Pineda (@kevinp461) March 20, 2016
Charles was at the center of the melee and could be seen throwing punches outside the seasonal display before mall security jumped in to get the situation under control. Charles claimed Jimenez-Guerrero instigated the fight, which the family contends is a lie.
"The guy just started hitting him with my daughter on him," the girl's mother, Nathalie Moreira, said. "The mad Easter Bunny of Jersey City."
Moreira said Charles dropped her daughter, 14-month-old Jaelynn, face first on the floor.
"He grabbed her, we snapped three pictures and the baby just fell," she said. "He did not have any type of sympathy that the baby fell. He never reached for her. No type of, he was so inhumane towards the baby. And of course her father went to him and said, 'What's wrong? What's going on? How are you going to just drop by baby?'"
She said Jimenez-Guerrero had his finger bitten so hard that he needed 14 stitches, and both he and Charles were arrested. Witnesses were shocked.
"I look over and literally, I see a man in the bunny suit and the top half of it was off," said Shannon Deluco, who works in a nearby store. "So the mask was off, everything else was on, I'm assuming it was a parent, I really don't know who it was."
But Charles' girlfriend said he took quite a beating himself.
"He is not what everyone is making him out to be," said Jasmine Butler, who was managing the photo booth at the time. "He definitely was attacked first...I've been in that suit before. The head alone weighs about 10 pounds."
A public defender who represented both men as they appeared from jail said the situation was an overreaction.
"Obviously, this was an unfortunate incident on a day that should've been happy for all," he said.
Jimenez-Guerrero has 22 prior arrests in New York and New Jersey and was wanted on a fugitive from justice warrant in New York. Charles has one prior arrest for fare hopping. They are due back in court about a week after Easter.