After Sarah Jane Comrie came forward with her receipts last week, the court of public opinion quickly shifted against the 17-year-old Black teen at the other end of the dispute. However, despite the evidence presented, not everything is as it seems.
Now, the teenager’s mother is speaking out for the first time and gave an exclusive interview to NewsOne, “on the condition that their names are changed to protect their identities.”
His mother Betty stated, “No one bothered to contact us to find out Michael’s story,” adding “They write all of these things about him, but no one bothered to ask him what happened or look at his receipts.”
Michael then quickly jumped in with his defense, “That’s because if they have my side of the story, she doesn’t have a case.” On the date in question, May 12, Michael and four of his teen friends rode Citi Bikes from the Bronx out to Harlem.
Citi Bike is a cheaper alternative to the subway for traveling between New York City boroughs, and on that fateful day, Michael and his friends searched for 20 minutes in the Bronx before finally discovering the coveted new e-bikes. They ventured out to Harlem, and ended their ride after 45 minutes.
Because Michael and his family are recipients “of some public assistance, he gets a discount on Citi Bike rides, but after 45 minutes, the rate on the bikes increases.” So on that day, Michael and his friends rode and re-docked their bikes on several occasions to reset the timer which would let them ride for an additional 45 minutes before stopping again without an increase in the rate. His sister Mary added that this is a routine practice for regular Citi Bike riders.
On one of these 45-minute increments, the boys rode down to the Lower East Side where they headed to the 1st Avenue and East 30th street docking station near Bellevue Hospital in Kip’s Bay, and docked their e-bikes at 7:19 pm.
This is where Comrie entered the fray, approached the group, and asked each of them if she could use one of their bikes. It is noteworthy that, “he and his friends never left the bikes unattended…Four of the boys were sitting on their bikes as they rested, but Michael was standing next to his with his hands on the handlebars.”
Each of them declined Comrie’s pleas, and Michael said he told her, “No, I’m about to take it back out.” When Comrie said “I’m pregnant. Can you help a pregnant woman out?” he responded with, “I’m sorry ma’am. I’ve ridden this bike all the way from the Bronx, and I need this bike to go back home.”
This is the moment when “Comrie moved closer to him and his bike, leaned over him, and scanned the QR code with her phone even as he had his hands on the handlebars. She then pushed her way onto the bike and attempted to remove it from the docking station and take it. It was 7:24 p.m., and that is when the boys began recording,” which has since played out in the viral video.
Michael’s story and accompanying receipts “directly contradicts the narrative that Justin Marino – the employment attorney representing Sarah Jane Comrie — gave in a statement he wrote to the New York Post.”
Unfortunately, the ensuing backlash against Michael and his family has been severe, and instead of enjoying his final moments in high school and the accompanying fanfare of prom and graduation, the senior “and his family have spent the last week and a half living in turmoil.”
As Michael said, “She did something wrong, and she basically got rewarded for it. She’s made over $100,000 on a GoFundMe. She got all the white conservatives on her side. Everyone who was on my side has just kind of stayed silent.”
A GoFundMe account has since been started for Michael and his family, who can’t afford a lawyer.