A New York man was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime on Thursday, weeks after the Chinese man he is accused of attacking in 2021 died from his injuries.
Jarrod Powell, 50, is charged with assaulting Yao Pan Ma, a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant, in East Harlem on April 23, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. Ma died of his injuries eight months after the attack, which sparked a national outcry amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country.
Powell has previously been charged with attempted murder, felony assault and a hate crime in the case. But after Ma died last month, a family representative said the charges should be strengthened.
“We are fighting for justice and I hope (Powell) never walks the streets as a free man. He must pay for what he did,” activist Karlin Chan said last month. community and spokesperson for Ma’s family.
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Investigators say Powell ran to Ma after seeing him on the street and punched him from behind, knocking him to the ground. Powell then repeatedly stomped on Ma’s head before repeatedly kicking her in the head, face and neck, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
Powell fled while Ma was unconscious and a bus driver who witnessed the attack signaled a nearby ambulance, the prosecutor’s office said.
Ma was treated for facial fractures, brain bleeds and traumatic brain injury, and he was placed on life support, prosecutors said.
Powell was arrested on April 27 and told police he was attacked by two Korean or Japanese men the day before he attacked Ma, according to the prosecutor’s office. But prosecutors said Powell admitted he did not report the incident to police and did not describe the alleged attackers beyond their racial identity.
“Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no reason other than his race,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.
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The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is currently pursuing 33 hate crime cases related to anti-Asian bias — the most the office has had since its hate crimes unit was established in 2010, Bragg said. The bureau prosecuted nearly four times as many anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 than the year before, she added.
The New York Police Department recorded 524 hate crime incidents in 2021, nearly double the 265 incidents recorded the previous year, according to the department’s hate crime reports.
A South Korean diplomat was punched in the face near Koreatown in New York on Wednesday, NBC News reported. The diplomat broke his nose and the assailant quickly fled, police said.
Anti-Asian hate incidents have also increased across the country, including in San Francisco, where police reported a 567% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021, according to preliminary police data.
“The devastating death of Yao Pan Ma, a beloved father of two, occurred amid a wave of anti-Asian attacks targeting our families, friends, neighbors and New York values” , Bragg said in the statement.
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Ma was a dim sum chef in China, Chan said. After immigrating to the United States in October 2018, Ma worked at a Chinese restaurant. But when the pandemic hit, the restaurant closed and he lost his job.
His wife had also lost her job as a home care worker, Chan said. The two started collecting bottles and cans to earn money for food. Ma was picking up cans on the street when he was attacked.
Chan said the couple also lost their Chinatown apartment to a fire in December 2019 and had to move in with relatives. The couple have two adult children who still live in China, Chan added.
Ma never regained consciousness after being attacked, Chan said, and died in a long-term care facility. Chan said a funeral is scheduled for next week.
Last month, dozens of people gathered at a vigil for Ma at the East Harlem intersection where he was beaten, Spectrum News reported. Attendees left white flowers next to a photo of Ma with the words “In memory of Yao Pan Ma.”
Contribute: The Associated Press
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.