The New York man suspected of the vicious attack on a 65-year-old Asian woman that has brought widespread outrage after it was caught on video this week was charged with a hate crime and ordered held without bail, the Manhattan district attorney said on Wednesday.
Brandon Elliot, 38, appeared at a virtual arraignment Wednesday evening in New York County. He was charged with two counts of assault in the second degree as a hate crime and one count of attempted assault in the first degree as a hate crime, the Manhattan DA’s office announced.
"Mr. Elliot is accused of brutally shoving, kicking, and stomping a 65-year-old mother to the ground after telling her that she didn’t belong here," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement on Wednesday. "Let me be clear: This brave woman belongs here. Asian-American New Yorkers belong here. Everyone belongs here. Attacks against Asian-American New Yorkers are attacks against all New Yorkers, and my office will continue to stand against hate in all its forms."
Security camera footage of the attack on Monday shows a man ferociously punching and kicking an older woman in front of an apartment building at 360 West 43rd street.
The attack sent the woman to the hospital with a broken pelvis, according to a statement to Oxygen.com from the New York City Police Department. She was reportedly on her way to church when she was assaulted and was taken to NYU Langone Hospital where she was treated for a broken pelvis and contusions on her head before later being released. She was recovering Tuesday, her daughter’s partner told the New York Daily News.
Elliot had been living at a local hotel serving as a homeless shelter at the time of the attack. He has two prior arrests: one for robbery in 2000 and another for the murder of his 42-year-old mother, Bridget Johnson, in their Bronx home in 2002, The Post reports.
He was paroled in 2019 after serving 17 years behind bars, NY1 reports.
The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Elliot in court, urged the public not to prejudge the case, adding that they are reviewing all of the details and will have a new statement in the coming days.
“At this time, we strongly urge the public to reserve judgment until all the facts are presented in court,” the nonprofit legal aid provider said in a Wednesday statement. “Mr. Elliot has a constitutional right to counsel and due process."
Video of the incident from inside the building at 360 West 43rd Street, which is managed by The Brodsky Organization, shows security guards watching the attack unfold; one is seen closing the front door of the apartment complex instead of intervening in the attack. His actions were widely condemned, including by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tweeted that this showed “a disgusting display of both hatred and indifference.”
“We cannot allow this violence to continue. New Yorkers cannot stand by silently while a fellow New Yorker is attacked. We MUST stand together as one community to #StopAsianHate once and for all,” he added.
The Brodsky Organization said that the security guards who witnessed the attack were “suspended pending an investigation in conjunction with their union.” the Daily News reported.
Employees International Union Local 32BJ President Kyle Bragg condemned the attack in a Tuesday statement and said that they are looking into the members’ response to the incident.
“The incident on West 43rd St. is under investigation, including the role of the door staff,” he said in a statement. “The information we have at the moment is that the door staff, members of SEIU 32BJ, called for help immediately. The staff in question has been suspended pending further investigation. Our union is working to get further details for a more complete account, and urge the public to avoid a rush to judgment while the facts are determined.”
Monday’s incident is the 33rd recorded attack on an Asian or Asian American in New York this year; there were 29 similar attacks over 2020. A report that looked at 16 U.S. cities across the country analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism indicates that in 2020, hate crimes decreased overall by 7%, while those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150%.
On Monday, the White House announced new actions to respond to the increase in xenophobia and acts of anti-Asian violence, and to “advance safety, inclusion, and belonging for all Asian Americans.” The plan includes increasing hate crime data access, new training for police and establishing nearly $50 million in grants to support assault survivors.
This follows the introduction of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). The act seeks to assign a point person at the Department of Justice to expedite review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, provide response support for law enforcement, and coordinate with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language.
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