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Local News

No charge filed against Sushi Ya cook in alleged stabbing incident

Sushi Ya chef filed workers' compensation claim over incident

A battery charge was not filed against a cook who alleges he was slashed in the hand with a meat cleaver by the husband of the Sushi Ya restaurant owner in Joliet.

On Tuesday, Judge Brian Barrett told Branden Bruzzo, 32, that no criminal complaint was filed against him by the state’s attorney’s office.

Bruzzo was arrested Jan. 7 in connection with an incident where he and Xiong Zheng, 53, got into fight in the kitchen, police said.

Police said Zheng, the husband of restaurant owner Hong Pan, slashed Bruzzo’a hand after he struck Zheng in the neck.

Bruzzo was arrested on probable cause of battery while Zheng was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery.

State’s attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney said a complaint generally is not filed when a determination has been made that the “facts and circumstances” are insufficient at the time.

Bruzzo said Tuesday he no longer works for Sushi Ya but plans to continue pursuing a workers’ compensation claim against the restaurant. The application form for the claim asked Bruzzo, “How did the accident occur?” but Bruzzo said it wasn’t an accident.

“You don’t accidentally hit somebody,” he said.

Pan said Bruzzo didn’t notify her he quit and that he has been absent from work for about a week. She said she would allow him to work again if he returns. Zheng’s attorney Jeff Tomczak said he’s waiting to receive the full discovery in his client’s case and he anticipates “taking it to trial.”

Sushi Ya was closed for about a week after the incident and re-opened Jan. 14.

“So far, everything is going smoothly,” Pan said.

An officer investigating the case watched security video footage from the kitchen and saw Bruzzo and Zheng cooking before a verbal altercation broke out, according to a Joliet police report.

Zheng put his hand on Bruzzo’s shoulder and Bruzzo hit Zheng in the neck, according to the report. The video then showed Zheng grabbing a meat cleaver, slashing Bruzzo’s hand and following him around the counter while attempting to cut Bruzzo again, the report said.

“Bruzzo had thrown multiple strikes toward Zheng while Zheng had the meat cleaver,” according to the report.

The video then showed Zheng “chasing Bruzzo out of the kitchen through the back door” with an “unknown object in his hand,” according to the report.

Kayla Barrentine, 34, said she was working at Sushi Ya during the incident when Bruzzo asked her to call the 911. Barrentine said she called against Pan’s wishes and was fired for it. Pan denied telling Barrentine not to call and said she never fired her.

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