A 31-year-old African American who allegedly said he wanted to attack the next white person who walked by could be charged with hate crimes after punching three people in an apparent racially motivated attack.
One of his victims, 62-year-old Jeffrey Babbitt, has been left brain damaged after being punched to the ground in New York’s Union Square on Wednesday afternoon, in a senseless attack that shocked onlookers.
Witnesses were shocked at the unexpected violence in Union Square on Wednesday afternoon, as Lashawn Marten punched Mr Babbitt and two other men after allegedly making racist comments.
‘He said “the next white person who walks by I’m going to f***”,’ one woman said. ‘His fist went in and the man’s head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground.’
Michael Benson, who also saw that attack, told ABC Local: ‘The guy got agitated for some reason or another and he said, “The next white person that bumps into me without saying excuse me, I’m going to knock him out”.’
After his racist rant and attack, witnesses said Marten stayed at the park and waited for police to arrive.
Mr Babbitt, the sole carer of his 92-year-old mother Hedda, has been in a coma since being knocked to the ground, and is believed to be brain dead, according to CBS New York.
‘The prognosis is not good and it does appear that the victim will likely die,’ Manhattan Assistant District Attorney John Temple said at Marten’s arraignment on Thursday.
Mrs Babbitt, who the retired train conductor shared a Brooklyn apartment with, has been at his hospital’s bedside since Wednesday.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Marten’s alleged comments about targeting white people before allegedly punching Mr Babbitt could lead to hate crime charges being made against him.
‘Our Hate Crimes Task Force is involved in aspects of that case,’ he added.
Marten, who has a previous criminal record and uses various aliases, was arraigned Thursday and charged with assault.
He is being held on a $1 million bond as police decide whether to also charge him with a hate crime.
Two other white men, aged 48 and 18, suffered minor injuries after being allegedly attacked by Marten as they tried to help Mr Babbitt who was laying on the ground.
Footage of the aftermath of the assault shows the victim on the ground, with blood pouring from his head.
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