Longtime Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry was knocked down by a man who was fleeing from the police while at a press conference Thursday morning, and was rushed to the hospital with a head injury.
“The Assemblymember was treated and released from Elmhurst Hospital for a laceration over his eye. He is in great spirits and doing well,” read a statement from Tyquana Henderson-Rivers, a spokesperson for Aubry.
Aubry had just finished speaking at the opening ceremony for the Louis Armstrong Center in his district in Corona, Queens, and was stepping down from the stage when a man being pursued by police ran directly into him, according to witnesses on the scene, and reporting by the New York Times. The two men collided chest to chest, hard, before the man ran away. Aubry fell to the ground where he began bleeding from his head.
In the heat of the moment, members of the crowd – which included Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, state Sen. Jessica Ramos and City Council Member Francisco Moya – didn’t know what exactly had happened, and there was some speculation that Aubry had been stabbed.
The Assembly member was taken away from the event on a stretcher with his head wrapped and was brought to a nearby hospital. Around half an hour later, people at the opening ceremony were notified that Aubry would be OK.
“Jeff is a gentle giant,” Richards told City & State. “He’s the reason that we were able to build the Armstrong Center. For him not to be there to cut the ribbon – it’s sitting with me now. Anybody who knows him, this has sat with them the entire day, because he’s a gentle giant. A mainstay in Queens.”
No further details about his condition have been released, and his office has not responded to requests for comment.
“My prayers are with Jeff Aubry,” Richards continued. “I’ve cut a million ribbons. You may get somebody who comes and curses at you, but goddamn.”
The situation unfolded when a silver Honda drove up onto the sidewalk and stopped close to the crowd, according to the Times. Police cars pulled up behind the car and the driver got out and sprinted from his vehicle. Richards said he believes the man had committed a mugging a few blocks away.
This is when he slammed into Aubry, presumably unintentionally, and kept on going. Police pursued the man, while the crowd was left to deal with the injured elected official.
“I didn’t see the guy; I’m thinking he just fell,” Richards said. “Then I saw the blood leaking from his face. Then, three seconds later, the cops are like, ‘Pursue!’ He bolted, and ran right into Jeff. We were all in shock.”
Another attendee of the ceremony, Diana Mathura, did see the man, who she described as dressed head to toe in black. She explained to City & State that there were five rows of people at the ceremony, with Aubry standing in the front row and herself being in the back row. Aubry’s position at the front of the pack unintentionally put him in the man’s path.
After a pause due to the commotion, the opening ceremony continued.
“It was a wild day,” Richards said. “It took the air out of the event for a while.”
The Louis Armstrong Center is a permanent 60,000-piece archive about jazz musician Louis Armstrong and his wife Lucille. It also has a 75-seat venue for performances, lectures, films and educational events.
With reporting by Jeff Coltin. This story has been updated with a statement from Aubry’s spokesperson.