NEW YORK — Jonathan Majors violently manhandled his ex-girlfriend Grace Jabbari during a chaotic cab ride that spilled onto the streets of Chinatown when she caught him texting another woman and continued to strong-arm her months later by claiming he was the victim, a Manhattan prosecutor charged Monday during opening statements at the actor’s domestic violence trial.
The incident was just one example of the “cruel and manipulative pattern of psychological and physical abuse” Majors inflicted against Jabbari, a choreographer, throughout their two-year relationship, Assistant District Attorney Michael Perez said in Manhattan Criminal Court. The prosecutor told jurors they would hear of how the Marvel star used violence to manipulate, control “and physically hurt” his girlfriend long before the assault he’s accused of.
Majors, who shot to stardom in films such as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges carrying up to a year in jail.
His attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said the case boiled down to a jealous ex-girlfriend upset about a breakup and painted Jabbari as unstable.
Chaudry listed some of Majors’ biggest film roles and told the jury he’d presented at the Oscars just a month before his arrest. In the aftermath, he was dropped by his management company and lost a string of lucrative deals.
The lawyer said Jabbari sought to take down her ex and undo “everything he has spent his whole life working for.”
Prosecutor Perez said Majors and Jabbari were riding back to the city from Brooklyn around midnight when she saw him get a text from a woman. When she grabbed his phone, Majors pulled her arm behind her back and twisted it before striking the side of her head, Perez said.
When the driver stopped on Canal Street and Centre Street, where Majors got out, Perez said Majors had “no hesitation” getting rough with Jabbari again.
As she tried to follow him, Perez said Majors forced her back into the Escalade, with CCTV capturing him “grabbing Grace Jabbari with his hands and shoving her into the back of the car.”
The encounter dragged out a while longer, with Majors taking Jabbari across the street and then sprinting off and leaving her alone when strangers intervened to see if she was OK. The group took Jabbari out to console her, and then she went back to the apartment where she was staying with Majors and went to sleep.
Perez said responding officers found Majors without a scratch when they took him into custody the following day. Jabbari was transported to the hospital with a broken finger and a bloody gash behind her ear.
He said Jabbari’s reaction to the incident was consistent with the behavior of domestic violence victims. Perez told jurors of how she initially hesitated to report the assault as Majors had “trained her to stay silent.”
The ADA told the jurors they’d hear about other explosive events during the couple’s relationship, like Majors hurling objects at walls and a recording of Majors berating Jabbari and telling her she had to live up to the standards of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King.
Perez told the jury that Majors’ attempts to exert control over his ex extended “well beyond” the night of the incident when he reported her to police as the aggressor in June.
The NYPD arrested Jabbari briefly in September in response to Majors’ allegations, but prosecutors quickly determined the case had no merit, and it was closed and sealed.
In her opening statement, Chaudhry contended Jabbari emerged from the car without “a mark on her fair face,” and alleged it was, in fact, her client who was injured and fled the scene in fear, saying Majors went to a hotel “to hide” and Jabbari went to a club “dancing, drinking, doing shots.”
“This is a case about the end of a relationship, not about a crime — at least not one that Mr. Majors committed. This man is innocent. That is not just a presumption,” Chaudhry said.
The case is likely to significantly hinge on the driver’s testimony, who prosecutors said would testify that Majors threw Jabbari back into the cab like “a football” as she tried to flee.
Chaudhry, in turn, told the panel he previously said Jabbari acted like a “psycho.” In court docs last month, prosecutors accused the Majors team of submitting a statement on the driver’s behalf that he denied knowledge of.
Perez said jurors would hear that Jabbari was quickly discharged after she was evaluated at Bellevue. She’s expected to testify as one of the first witnesses.
Wearing a beret and a long, black coat, the actor arrived at the lower Manhattan courthouse around 9:25 a.m. bearing a Bible with his new girlfriend, actress Meagan Good, in tow.
He had no comment.