Editor’s note: The Daily News reported late today that the victim in the attack described below has died.
A black New York City man who police say punched and critically injured a 62-year-old retiree last week after reportedly shouting “I’m going to punch the first white man I see” is scheduled to appear in court for the second time tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, the authorities are trying to determine whether the unprovoked and random attack last week near the chess boards at Union Square was a hate crime or the senseless act of a mentally disturbed man. “It’s still under investigation,” a spokesman for the New York City Police Department told Hatewatch today.
The suspect, Lashawn Marten, 31, has been charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault for attacking Jeffrey Babbitt, a white retired train conductor and two other men who came to Babbitt’s aid after he fell to the ground, hitting his head on the sidewalk.
Babbitt lay motionless as blood spread across the sidewalk beneath his head.
The charges against Marten could be upgraded at any time. Babbitt is reported to be brain dead, but the police spokesman would not confirm that today, adding that he remains in critical condition.
According to the account in the Daily News, Babbitt was visiting Union Square about 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday when Marten shouted his threat and suddenly “bashed” Babbitt “with a fist of racist rage.”
The haymaker staggered Babbitt, who fell backward and hit his head on the sidewalk. The Daily News said Babbitt lives in Brooklyn and cares for his elderly mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Two strangers came to Babbitt’s aid, according to the criminal complaint. Marten allegedly attacked them both, striking them in the face with a closed fist. One of the men reported pain in his face, head and back.