Friday, July 12, 2024

Man faces hate crime charges in fatal beating of elderly Sikh man in US

A 30 year-old man, who beat an elderly Sikh man to death while calling him “turban man” during a road rage incident in New York City, has been charged with manslaughter as a hate crime.

Gilbert Augustin also faces charges including assault as a hate crime and unlicensed driving in connection with the death of 66-year-old Jasmer Singh, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Tuesday.

While the police was treating Singh’s death as a road rage case earlier, Singh’s family pushed for hate crime charges to be filed against Augustin.

Singh was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens in critical condition where he died of a brain injury a day after he was assaulted on October 19.

Prosecutors said Augustin called Singh “turban man” during an argument that followed their crash on the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens.

“He just hit my father so intense, like so hard on his head. His two front teeth were taken out,” Singh’s son Subeg Multani had told CBS News.

Police said that the altercation began after Singh’s Toyota collided with Augustin’s Ford Mustang near Hillside Avenue in Kew Gardens on October 19.

Both men pulled over and Augustin got out of his car and confronted Singh.

Prosecutors said quoting witnesses that they heard a man say “no police, no police” when Singh went to call 911 and saw him snatching the phone from the latter’s hands.

Singh got out of the car and followed Augustin in an attempt to get his phone back as the two argued.

When Singh was walking back towards his car after getting his phone back, Augustin punched him three times in the head and face, witnesses said.

Singh fell to the ground and hit his head, while Augustin hopped back into his Ford Mustang and took off, according to a criminal complaint.

Police arrested Augustin about two miles from the crash site on October 20, and found he had a suspended drivers license and his Alabama license plate did not match his New York registration.

Augustin has been charged in a 20-count indictment with crimes including manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime, assault in the second degree as a hate crime, reckless endangerment and unlicensed driving.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“This is a case of a fender bender immediately escalating to hateful language and then brutal, deadly violence,” Katz said in a news release. “We will show in court that it was a rage inflamed by hate that led to this senseless tragedy.”

The fatal incident occurred just four days after a Sikh teenager was punched repeatedly for wearing a turban onboard a bus in New York City.

Following two successive hate crime incidents against the Sikhs, New York Mayor Eric Adams addressed the community taking full responsibility for the attack and vowing to protect them.

“Your turban does not mean terrorism. It means protecting, it means community, it means family, it means faith, it means city, it means us coming together. We will change the dialogue and narrative with you. We can do it together,” Adams said at Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center in South Richmond Hill.

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