EAST HARLEM, Manhattan — Police arrested a man on Tuesday accused of repeatedly kicking an Asian man in the head in East Harlem, critically injuring him amid a surge in violence against the Asian community, according to the NYPD.
Jarrod Powell, 49, was charged with two counts of felony assault, police said.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the assault, however, no hate crime charges were filed against Powell as of Tuesday.
Powell is accused of pushing 61-year-old Yao Pan Ma to the ground and repeatedly kicking him in the head near the corner of Third Avenue and East 125th Street on Friday night.
Ma remained in a coma Monday night, according to his family. His niece said she didn’t think he was doing well.
“I’m worried,” she said. “He’s not awake yet.”
A former restaurant worker who lost his job because of the pandemic, Ma was collecting cans in the neighborhood when he was attacked. Surveillance video released by the police showed the attacker stomping on his head multiple times. A bus driver called 911.
Ma came to New York about two years ago, his family said. He moved to East Harlem after his home in Chinatown burned down.
Joann Tucker, one of Ma’s neighbors, said she was shocked to hear about the attack.
“I didn’t think anybody would bother them,” she said about the victim and his wife. “They’re so quiet; they don’t bother nobody.”
The attack recalled last month’s assault near Times Square in which a woman who immigrated from the Philippines was knocked to the ground and stomped on by an attacker who shouted anti-Asian slurs. A parolee convicted of killing his mother nearly two decades ago was arrested in that attack.
Police and city officials have been grappling with a horrific spike in anti-Asian attacks this year. There were at least 62 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police between Jan. 1 and April 18, compared to 12 reported during the same time period in 2020, according to NYPD data.
The NYPD has stepped up patrols in Asian communities across the city. The department also deployed undercover Asian police officers and added two more detectives to its Asian Hate Crimes Task Force.
Nationally, the U.S. Senate passed legislation last week aimed at fighting the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The measure would expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and provide support for local law enforcement in response to thousands of reported violent incidents in the past year.
Resources for victims and anyone who witnesses a possible hate crime have been gathered by The City, a local nonprofit news outlet.