Saturday, January 3, 2009

Girfriend backs former City Councilman Hiram Monserrate's story: I just fell down

Friday, January 2nd 2009, 11:13 PM

It was all a big misunderstanding, the girlfriend of former City Councilman Hiram Monserrate said in a new interview, backing his claim that he didn't mean to slash her in the face with a broken glass.

"He stumbled over something in the room. I was startled, and we stumbled into each other. I felt the water on my body and saw the blood on my face," Karla Giraldo said in an interview with the Spanish-language weekly where she writes a column.

"He said, 'Baby, you're cut, let's go to the hospital.' When he said that to me, I got more nervous knowing that my face was cut."

Monserrate, a 41-year-old ex-cop, was arrested Dec. 19 and charged with felony assault after he took Giraldo to a Long Island emergency room to get 20 stitches around her eye.

He resigned from the City Council on New Year's Eve and has taken the oath of office for his new job as a state senator. The Council referred him to its Ethics Committee, but Senate Democrats have not taken any action.

Sources told the Daily News that Monserrate became enraged when he found another man's card in Giraldo's purse after the Queens Democrats' Christmas party.

In the interview with her cousin Jasmina Abril de Rojas, who publishes the Resumen newspaper, Giraldo confirmed that Monserrate found a police officer's card and threw it away - but said it didn't spark a fight.

"I told him that it was from a police officer friend of mine," Giraldo said. "He responded that I didn't need to have other people's cards, that in case of any emergencies that he was here to help me. He then threw the card in the garbage."

She said she asked to go to Long Island Jewish Medical Center on the Nassau County line because it has a plastic surgeon, instead of to the city-run Elmhurst Hospital Center a few blocks from Monserrate's apartment.

"We got to the emergency room. The police then got there and took my boyfriend away under arrest," Giraldo said. "When I saw this, I insisted various times that he should not be arrested. Up until that moment, I did not understand why they arrested him."

Prosecutors have pressed forward with the case, even though Giraldo has been largely uncooperative.

Monserrate is due back in court on Tuesday.

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