Charges in the death of a Chinese immigrant who was brutally attacked while collecting recyclables in East Harlem have been upgraded to hate crime second-degree murder, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Jarrod Powell, 50, initially faced charges of attempted murder and assault as a hate crime following the April attack on Yao Pan Ma. Prosecutors say the 61-year-old Ma was pushing a cart and collecting recyclables near 125th Street and Third Avenue when he was struck from behind, knocked to the ground, and repeatedly kicked in the head and face.
The former restaurant worker died of his injuries New Year's Eve, prompting the filing of new charges.
“Hopefully there's a speedy trial and they get a conviction out of this and incarcerate Powell for the rest of his life,” said Karlin Chan, a spokesman for the family of Ma.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in announcing Powell's indictment that the attack was unprovoked.
“The devastating death of Yao Pan Ma, a beloved father of two, occurred amidst a surge of anti-Asian attacks targeting our families, friends, neighbors, and New York values,” Bragg said. “As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race.”
According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, the city experienced 1,336 incidents of anti-Asian hate through Sept. 30, the highest of any U.S. city.
As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race.
Last month, 40-year-old Michelle Go, an Asian American resident who lived on the Upper West Side, died after being pushed into the path of an oncoming subway car at Times Square.
The accused in Go’s death faces murder charges, though the attack has not been classified as a hate crime.
Bragg, who took office in January, said his office is currently prosecuting 33 hate crime cases “driven by anti-Asian bias,” the most seen since the office’s Hate Crimes Unit was established in 2010.
Hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers surged last year, according to NYPD data. There were 131 reports of Anti-Asian hate crimes, up from 28 the year before.
Advocates say hate crimes against all groups often go unreported.
“Now, more than ever, it is essential that we, as prosecutors and as New Yorkers, remain vigilant and forcefully reject bias-fueled crimes in our communities,” Bragg said.
According to the indictment and a statement from Bragg’s office, Powell encountered Ma on the East Harlem street corner about 8:15 p.m. on April 23.
Powell allegedly ran up to Ma from behind and knocked him to the ground. The accused then stomped on Ma’s head and repeatedly kicked him in the head, face, and neck. Powell then fled, leaving Ma unconscious on the corner, the statement said.
Following his arrest days after the attack, Powell allegedly “made statements to law enforcement in which he claimed to have been attacked by two Korean or Japanese men the day before he attacked Mr. Ma,” the statement said.
Legal counsel for Powell could not immediately be reached for comment.
Bragg urged hate crime victims to contact his office's Hate Crimes Hotline: 212-335-3100.