2006_10_sandy.jpgThe NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating why 28 year old black man ran into the Belt Highway, where he was hit by a car. Eyewitnesses say that two white men "struggled with" and "forced" Michael Sandy into traffic on Sunday night. Given that Sandy's race and the fact he was in Plumb Beach, a gay cruising area off the highway, the police have been investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. The Post has this account:

At about 9:40 p.m., he was confronted by two young white men, who began looking through the interior of the vehicle before Sandy ran off toward the Belt, witnesses told cops.

The men, who appeared to be between 19 and 22 years old, caught up with him in the right lane and grabbed him.

But Sandy broke free and backpedaled into the middle lane as he and the men exchanged words, cops said.

Sandy then turned and ran into the left lane, where a car hit him before speeding off, according to police.

One of his assailants fled, but the other dragged Sandy back to the road's shoulder, and began rifling through his pockets, cops said.

The thug seemed to be looking for something in particular, and when he did not find it, he returned to the parking lot and looked there, police said.

The police have been downplaying any similarities between this and the Howard Beach attack of 1986, where a black man was killed after being chased by white youths. However, politicians and locals alike bemoan the crime that takes place at night, leading State Senator Carl Kruger to suggest the 9PM curfew change to dusk.

Sandy, who designs merchandise displays at the Hicksville Ikea and lives in East Williamsburg, is currently unconscious and on a respirator at Brookdale Hospital.