Lawyer for Marvel's Jonathan Majors blames NYPD 'racism' for his domestic-violence arrest

Jonathan Majors leaving a courthouse while wearing a brown jacket and a white shirt and holding the hand of a woman who is wearing a light pink dress.
A Manhattan Criminal Court judge set an August 3 trial date on Majors' misdemeanor domestic assault case.Mary Altaffer/AP
  • Jonathan Majors appeared Tuesday in Manhattan on a domestic-assault case involving an ex-girlfriend.

  • The trial in the misdemeanor case is set to start on August 3.

  • His lawyer accused police of ignoring the star's account and asking if his penthouse was really his.

Jonathan Majors appeared with his new girlfriend, Meagan Good, Tuesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where a judge set an August 3 trial date for the domestic-violence arrest that has grounded his skyrocketing movie career for the past three months.

The Marvel star wore a rumpled, brown linen suit over a white dress shirt and did not speak during or after the five-minute hearing, except to say "good morning" to the judge.

His lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, told Insider that the star had hoped the misdemeanor-assault charges would be dropped by Manhattan prosecutors.

But she said that Majors was still eager to prove his innocence to a jury.

Majors is known to movie audiences as the Marvel supervillain Kang the Conqueror and also stars as a boxing prodigy in "Creed III," which was released in theatres in early March and is his latest movie role.

It was just three weeks later that Majors was arrested on suspicion of hitting his then-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, in a fight on a Chinatown street corner.

Jonathan Majors standing in front of podiums with microphones at a court house with his defense lawyers, Seth Zuckerman and Priya Chaudhry.
The Marvel actor is represented by the lawyers Seth Zuckerman and Priya Chaudhry.Steven Hirsch/Pool

"Ms. Jabbari claims that Mr. Majors assaulted her in a car in Chinatown around 12:00 a.m. on March 25, 2023, and during this incident, Mr. Majors broke her finger and lacerated her ear," Chaudhry wrote in a letter to Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Rachel S. Pauley that was released April 8.

"We have proof that this is a complete lie," Chaudhry told the judge, detailing a trove of defense eyewitness interviews, phone records, credit-card statements, and hours of surveillance and police body-camera video.

Chaudhry alleged in the letter that this evidence suggested that Jabbari injured herself some seven hours after that midnight fight when Jabbari took a fall while alone in Majors' penthouse apartment after drinking and taking sleeping pills.

The evidence Chaudhry shared with Insider did not show how Jabbari was injured or the entirety of the fight between Jabbari and Majors that is at the center of the misdemeanor charges. It did however appear to support the lawyer's contention that Jabbari's ear and finger were uninjured in the hours after the fight.

A 'racist' arrest

Chaudhry continued in the letter that Jabbari had said "'I don't know' nineteen times" when asked by arriving medics and cops how she was injured, citing police body-worn-camera footage taken at the penthouse and turned over to the defense by prosecutors.

The letter alleges that the NYPD footage showed the lead officer "coaching Ms. Jabbari to accuse Mr. Majors of assault."

She said in the letter that the arrest was "racist" and showed the officers questioning among themselves how Majors — who they didn't recognize as a famous actor — could afford to live in a luxe penthouse.

Chaudhry told Insider that all six of the responding officers were white.

"Even though Ms. Jabbari admitted to drinking to the point of throwing up, taking sleeping pills, and having no idea how she woke up in a closet with a cut on her head and injured finger, the police jumped to the conclusion that Mr. Majors (the young, tall, strong, rich Black man) must have 'done this' to Ms. Jabbari," Chaudhry's letter alleged, citing the NYPD footage.

Prosecutors charged Majors with six counts of assaulting and three counts of harassing Jabbari, a London-based movement coach who had worked alongside Majors on the set of this year's "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment. The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment. Efforts to reach Jabbari by email and social media were not successful.

A career on hold

The cost of his arrest has been high. Majors quickly lost a US Army ad campaign, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Deadline reported that he was dropped by his talent manager and his PR firm in April.

Last week, Disney+ indefinitely delayed a planned "Assembled" docuseries episode on the making of "Quantumania," The Direct reported. The release dates of two upcoming Avengers movies were also delayed a year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"He's heartbroken," Chaudhry told Insider of Majors. "He's watching his career dangle in the wind."

"He wants this to go to trial yesterday."

Jonathan Majors standing next to Priya Chaudhry in a busy court house while wearing a brown jacket and a white shirt.
Majors said video footage would prove his innocence in the August trial.Steven Hirsch/Pool

Here is a look at the defense evidence, as detailed in the April 8 letter and a series of interviews with Chaudhry, who shared key photographs and surveillance video with Insider.

The evidence starts with the driver, the first of at least four eyewitnesses to the fight at the center of the case.

The driver is prepared to testify

Chaudhry told Insider that the man who drove Majors and Jabbari to and from a Brooklyn bar that night was not directly employed by Majors and worked instead for BlackLane, an upscale private black-car company.

She wrote in the April 8 letter that the man — whose name she asked not to be published — was prepared to testify that Majors never raised his voice or a hand against Jabbari as they argued inside his car, or after he pulled the car over and the dispute spilled out onto a busy street corner.

"The driver of the car saw and heard everything," the letter said.

Street surveillance video reviewed by Insider appears to substantiate at least some of the driver's account and shows Majors repeatedly trying to flee from Jabbari as she pulls at his coat.

"And he's, you know, a big guy and she's pulling him so hard that she pulls his body into the car," the lawyer said. "And you see the coat rip, and he does finally get out," Chaudhry told Insider.

A small group of women who witnessed the fight recognized the star.

"Only in New York, right? One of the women jumps on him, hugs him, and asks for a selfie," Chaudhry said. "And he's so nice. They take a selfie."

At one point in the footage reviewed by Insider, Jabbari used both hands to briskly fiddle with her hair.

"She ties her hair into a knot. If your finger was broken, and you went to tie your hair in a knot, it would hurt," the lawyer said.

"She gathered her hair behind her ear. If your ear was cut, and your finger was broken, and you went to do that, you would be, like, 'Oh, what happened?'" she added. "But she's totally fine."

A bartender who met Jabbari is prepared to testify, too

Chaudhry told Insider that Majors and an uninjured Jabbari parted ways after the fight to embark on two separate and very different evenings.

Majors spent the rest of the night at an Upper East Side hotel. The lawyer said phone records showed that he sent Jabbari a break-up text before turning off his phone.

Jabbari, meanwhile, befriended three of the passersby who'd witnessed the fight, the lawyer said. The one woman and two men headed to "Loosie's," a nearby nightclub, Chaudhry said in the letter. Prosecutors have the contact information for at least one of these witnesses, but have not shared it with the defense, Chaudhry told Insider.

The lawyer alleged in the April 8 letter that video from Loosie's showed Jabbari dancing and drinking with her new acquaintances and charging their drinks, including rounds of shots and an $800 bottle of Champagne, to Majors' credit card.

Insider has reviewed timestamped video from inside Loosie's nightclub obtained by Chaudhry. Throughout two hours of footage from multiple cameras, Jabbari shows no sign of having an injury to her right hand.

Instead, she can be seen using her right hand to shuffle through her wallet for the credit card, handle her cell phone, hold a menu, clink Champagne glasses with her friends, write and hand a note to the DJ, give what appears to be a fist-pump into the air on the dance floor, and, finally, sign a check.

At one point in the video, Jabbari uses her right hand to push her hair behind her right ear, which shows no sign of the laceration police would see much later that morning, when they arrived at the penthouse.

Chaudhry told Insider that the bartender remembered Jabbari's British accent and would testify that Jabbari was "having a great time" and that he recalled no bleeding ear or bruised finger.

"Her finger is not broken, and her ear is not lacerated" after her fight with Majors, the defense lawyer added.

The break-up text

Shortly after 3 a.m., club surveillance footage shows Jabbari standing near the hostess stand. Chaudhry said this was the moment she saw Majors' break-up text on her phone.

The lawyer alleged that Jabbari soon left the club and grabbed a taxi with Majors' card. Surveillance footage shows her arriving at Majors' address at 3:23 a.m.

As she rode up to Majors' triplex penthouse on the 17th, 18th, and 19th floor of a luxury, lower Manhattan apartment building, the elevator surveillance camera recorded a clear image of her right hand, to which there continues to be no apparent injury, Chaudhry said in the April 8 letter.

Jabbari's phone went silent at 7:45 a.m. She had called Majors 32 times since they parted ways at midnight, and had sent him a series of "angry, jealous text messages" accusing him of infidelity and begging him to call her, Chaudhry alleged in the letter.

Hours later, Majors, still in his Upper East Side hotel room, began scrolling through Jabbari's barrage of calls and texts. What he saw chilled him to the bone, Chaudhry told Insider, and he came rushing home.

A suicide threat

Surveillance footage from Majors' lobby shows him returning to the penthouse at 11:13 a.m., nearly 12 hours after the fight on a Chinatown street.

Jabbari had texted a suicide threat to Majors when he did not respond to her texts, Chaudhry said in the April 8 letter.

Jonathan Majors standing shirtless in a dimly lit room with chandeliers above him in "Magazine Dreams."
Majors is known for his roles in "Magazine Dreams" and "The Last Black Man in San Francisco."Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

The handyman is also prepared to testify

Majors let himself into his penthouse. Upstairs, a bedroom door was locked from the inside. He called the resident handyman to force open the door, the lawyer wrote in the letter.

Inside, Majors and the handyman found Jabbari half-naked and passed out on the floor of a walk-in closet, Chaudhry said in the letter.

Chaudhry wrote that the evidence would show that her right ear was bloody and that the knuckles of her right middle finger were swollen and bright purple with vomit on the bed and a bottle of sleeping pills nearby.

"I have a witness who was on the phone with Mr. Majors when he found her unconscious body, gasped, and called 911," Chaudhry told Insider. The handyman is another witness, the lawyer said.

"Both witnesses verify that Ms. Jabbari was locked in a bedroom, that Mr. Majors was not with Ms. Jabbari whatsoever before he found her and called 911 seconds later," the defense lawyer told Insider.

"Whatever caused her injuries — likely falling in the closet after a night of heavy drinking and taking sleeping pills — Mr. Majors was not there when the injuries happened," she told the judge in the letter.

"I don't know" 19 times

NYPD body-worn camera video turned over to Chaudhry by prosecutors shows a disoriented-seeming Jabbari telling cops and paramedics that she had drank to the point of throwing up in the bed and had taken several sleeping "tablets," the defense lawyer said in the letter.

Jabbari had no idea why her finger was bruised and her ear was bloody, Chaudhry said in the letter, instead telling first responders "I don't know" 19 times.

"She also asks, 'What happened to my finger?' to one of the cops when she was alone with him," Chaudhry told Insider, saying that the police body-camera footage showed Jabbari looking down at her hand as if discovering the injury for the first time.

Chaudhry said in the letter that Jabbari also told the officers "that she started a fight in the car because she saw a text from another girl, wanted to see his phone, and tried to grab his phone."

"But then the cops keep asking her if he hit her, punched her," Chaudhry told Insider.

At one point in the body-camera footage, the cop who would end up swearing out the original assault complaint can be seen on the video touching his own throat several times while questioning what Majors "did," as if coaching her, Chaudhry alleges in the letter.

But the police videos do not show any visible injury to Jabbari's neck, the lawyer said.

A subsequent, amended complaint would remove the first complaint's allegation that Major had "put his hand on her neck, causing bruising and substantial pain."

"I suspect the medical records also show no injury to the neck," Chaudhry said.

She told Insider that Majors' medical expert was ready to testify that Jabbari's cut ear and swollen finger were consistent with her having fallen while alone in the penthouse.

Majors' attorney said his arrest could make Black men afraid to call 911

NYPD body-camera footage captured Majors telling the cops who had arrived at his penthouse that he had not struck or injured Jabbari, and that she, instead, had gouged his own chin and arm with her fingernails as they fought on the street the night before, ripping his $1,000 coat, Chaudhry said.

"They did not investigate, pursue or care," even after he showed them the damage to his face, arm and coat, Chaudhry wrote in the letter to the judge.

Why did officers instead believe Jabbari, who at first could not even remember what had happened?

Racism, Chaudhry alleges.

Chaudhry said the footage showed the officers "walking around and looking out the windows, at the view" from the 17th, 18th, and 19th floors while "making impressed faces and mumbling to each other."

"Because the cameras are worn on the officers' chests, the video shows where they go, what they are looking at, and how long they look at it," she said.

"There is also some commentary by all the officers about how this is a three-level penthouse, clearly showing amazement at the unique size of the place."

Priya Chaudhry walking past a chain-link fence while wearing a black and white jacket, large golden earrings, and a multicolored handbag.
Chaudhry, Majors' attorney.Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

"Majors saved her life by calling 911, and they have falsely charged him with a crime," Chaudhry told Insider.

Chaudhry wrote in court documents that officials had "refuse to prosecute" Jabbari on suspicion of assaulting Majors or in connection to the Rolex watches and diamond jewelry Jabbari is accused of taking from the apartment.

"Meanwhile they refuse to prosecute her" for allegedly assaulting him, or for Rolex watches and diamond jewelry, she alleged in court documents that Jabbari took from the apartment.

"It is heartbreaking that in 2023, a Black man should still be afraid to dial 911, even to save a life," the lawyer said.

"The sad truth of this story is that if you are Black man and there is a white woman who needs medical help, you should think twice about calling 911 because chances are, you will be blamed and arrested."

"And everyone—despite proof of the Black man's innocence—will assume he did it," she said. "And no one — despite proof of the white woman's crimes — will prosecute her."

This story has been updated to add details from Majors' June 20, 2023, court appearance.

Read the original article on Insider