The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack on a 61-year-old Asian American man randomly pummeled in Harlem late Friday as a possible hate crime, the latest in a string of assaults against people of Asian descent across the city.
Police said the attack happened at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and East 125th Street at around 8:20 p.m., when the victim had been hit from behind by the assailant. Surveillance video released by the NYPD showed the victim on the ground as the suspect repeatedly and viciously kicks him while on the ground, rendering the victim motionless. The suspect–dressed in a black jacket, black pants, white sneakers, and a multi-colored baseball hat–then walks away.
The victim was rushed to NYC Health & Hospitals/Harlem and was listed in critical condition.
An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist/WNYC that while the Hate Crimes Task Force–which investigates cases where suspects are driven to hurt someone because of “a person’s, a group’s or a place’s identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation”–is taking the lead on the case, it’s so far not deemed this as a hate-motivated attack. The police spokesperson did not say whether any ethnic slurs were hurled at the victim prior or during the attack.
The incident comes several days after the NYPD announced the creation of an independent panelthat assesses whether a crime merits an investigation from the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. The panel will meet every two weeks and make recommendations over whether certain cases require the district attorney to upgrade charges to a hate crime.
“This panel will certainly add a deeper insight into these crimes. They may help us see things we may not have seen, and ultimately ensure justice for victims which is what we all want,” NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said at a press conference announcing the formation. “Cops and communities working together. This is our credo.”
The most recent statistics from the NYPD show there to be 44 bias incidents against people who identify as Asian, compared to 13 the same time last year.
Anyone with information on the latest incident and the whereabouts of the suspect are encouraged to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).