The person accused of striking a 29-year-old Asian man with a hammer at a Manhattan subway station while yelling anti-Asian slurs last month was indicted on hate crime charges, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday.
Christian Jeffers, 48, whose arrest was announced by police the day after the attack, is being charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor. Those charges include: attempted assault in the first degree as a hate crime; menacing in the second degree as a hate crime; criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; menacing in the second degree as a hate crime; and aggravated harassment in the second degree, the district attorney’s office said.
The incident occurred around 9 p.m. on March 8, when police alleged Jeffers bumped into the victim, an Asian man who was with his wife, inside the Union Square Subway Station. Jeffers then yelled, “You can’t see me? You don’t have eyes?” and stepped on the victim’s foot, the DA said.
When the victim pushed Jeffers away, she allegedly struck him on the head with a hammer, lacerating his skin, authorities said. The victim fell to the ground, and his wife followed Jeffers, who allegedly threatened her with the hammer, according to prosecutors.
An NYPD officer spotted Jeffers the next day at the 125th/Lexington Subway station, officials said. After the suspect was arrested, Bragg’s statement said, Jeffers allegedly made racially offensive comments to both a Hispanic NYPD officer and an Asian NYPD sergeant.
“Hate-driven violence and slurs have no place in New York,” Bragg said in a statement. “Disturbingly, this alleged hate crime was just one in a wave of recent anti-Asian attacks. I want our AAPI neighbors to know that the Manhattan D.A.’s Office is here for you, and we are committed to your safety.”
Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans were up roughly 368% in 2021 over the previous year, according to NYPD data. Those numbers did, however, start to go down slightly during the first quarter of 2022, according to police.
The city’s Asian American community has been vocal about resisting what has been described as an epidemic of violence. In its national report released earlier this year, Stop AAPI Hate found there were nearly 11,000 incidents of hate and harassment throughout the country from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 through the end of 2021.
This story has been updated since it's initial publication.