UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — Police have a man in custody Thursday in connection with an attempted rape and assault on the Upper West Side that was so violent, the victim's skull was fractured.
The 37-year-old victim had been dropped off by an Uber at about 11 p.m. Wednesday and was walking on 84th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Circle when Desmond Smith, 32, allegedly approached her.
Police said he tried to start up a conversation with the victim. When she ignored him, Smith became angry and allegedly threw her to the sidewalk, punched her in the head, stomped on her and bit her in the face and head, police said.
The woman pleaded with Smith to stop, telling him to take her purse or necklace, police said.
Smith then allegedly tried to take her clothes off. When she screamed, she caught the attention of Ernest Pjetri, the doorman of a building across the street.
“I came outside when I hear female scream,” Pjetri said. “He was on top of her. I couldn’t see clearly, but I saw him pulling off her clothes, ripping off her clothes and hitting her.”
Pjetri ran across the street and tried to take a picture of the man for police. His actions and the flash from his phone startled the attacker, police said.
Pjetri said the attacker then ran after him and pushed him. He said the culprit told him the woman owed him money in an apparent attempt to explain why he was attacking her.
Police believe Smith and victim do not know each other.
The NYPD obtained surveillance images of the attacker from cameras in area apartment buildings. He ran off toward Columbus Avenue.
The woman suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull and bruises. She was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Smith has been charged with attempted rape, strangulation, sexual abuse and assault, police said.
He had 12 prior arrests for assault, criminal possession of weapons, drugs, burglary, robbery and grand larceny.