Yao Pan Ma was collecting cans when he was approached from behind on an East Harlem corner Friday, struck in the back and, after he fell to the ground, kicked in the head multiple times, according to police and a verified GoFundMe account.
Jarrod Powell, 49, was detained early Tuesday morning in connection with the attack and the NYPD recommends that he faces attempted murder, and two hate crime assault charges.
Police had initially recommended Powell be charged with two counts of felony assault. It’s unclear whether Powell has retained an attorney.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said it could not confirm any charges in the case, pending an arraignment.
City leaders, activists and Ma’s family members gathered Tuesday to condemn the attack and urge the DA’s office to prosecute Powell “to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This is the act of one depraved individual,” said Karlin Chan, a community activist speaking on behalf of the victim’s wife, Baozhen Chen.
Jennifer Wu, an attorney representing Ma’s family, said her firm was confident law enforcement would conduct a “thorough review” of the incident.
“We are heartbroken by the attack against Mr. Ma, and the surge of attacks against the Asian-American community,” Wu said.
The NYPD has said its investigating more than 60 possible hate crimes against Asian Americans this year, and 42 incidents through the end of March have been classified as hate crimes.
About 20% of the respondents said former President Donald Trump’s “rhetoric about China as the source of the pandemic” as well as his racist labeling of the coronavirus as the “kung flu” or “Chinese flu” has contributed to the mounting violence, according to the survey.
The group, which chronicles hate and harassment incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic, said it has received 503 reports of anti-Asian hate and bias so far this year.