Following the attack on a 66-year-old Sikh man after a car collision, a New York City man has been accused and charged on a slew of charges, including hate crimes, reported CNN citing prosecutors. Reportedly, the defendant Gilbert Augustin, 30, a resident of Queens, was driving in that borough on October 19 when Jasmer Singh collided with him, according to the office of Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz. The accident took place on Thursday while Jasmer was driving his wife home from a doctor’s appointment in preparation for a trip to India this coming week.
As the dispute heated up between the two drivers, Augustin allegedly repeatedly called Singh, who was wearing a turban, “turban man”, prosecutors said in a news release, according to CNN. Following this, Augustin eventually punched Singh three times in the head and face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement, the prosecutors added. Leading to this, Singh suffered a brain injury and was taken to a hospital, where he died the next day. “This is a case of a fender bender immediately escalating to hateful language and then brutal, deadly violence,” Katz said in the release. “We will show in court that it was a rage inflamed by hate that led to this senseless tragedy.” However, Augustin pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 20 charges related to the incident, including first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and second-degree assault as a hate crime, the court records stated, reported CNN.
Moreover, the charges also included reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting it, and operating a motor vehicle without a license, an indictment filed in a state court in Queens County said. Reportedly, the incident was not initially investigated as a hate crime, a New York Police Department spokesperson said. “During a Queens district attorney’s grand jury, new information came to light that was not originally revealed to NYPD detectives,” the spokesperson said. James Concemore Neville, Augustin’s defence attorney, called the case “a very difficult one for all parties concerned.” “I will say that it’s a very sad, tragic case and that my job in this situation … is to protect Augustin’s rights – his constitutional rights,” Neville said.
Moreover, Augustin is expected in court on December 6. Adding to this, if convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office, CNN reported. After the attack, Jasmer’s son Multani while talking about his father, said, “He was educated, a very noble person, a simple person.” Singh, 68, came to the US from India to raise his family. He further said, “My father’s skull was broken. Two front teeth were gone.” Moreover, Multani said he is convinced his father’s appearance as a turbaned Sikh was the reason for the brutality, and wants his death to be charged as a hate crime, as per CBS News.
Multani added, “The guy was addressing my father with his costumes, with his turbans. There was no reason for someone to go in that intensity. My father was targeted and it is a possible hate crime.”