A New York City man will face hate crime murder charges in the death of a Chinese immigrant who was brutally attacked in April 2021 while collecting cans in East Harlem and died of his injuries eight months later.
Yao Pan Ma, 61, died Dec. 31, police said. The attack drew national attention as part of a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York and around the country. Jarrod Powell, 50, of New York City, was previously charged with attempted murder, felony assault and hate crimes in the case.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office said Thursday those charges have now been upgraded to 2nd-degree murder as a hate crime.
“As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race," DA Alvin Bragg said in a statement. "Tragically, our Office is currently prosecuting 33 hate crime cases driven by anti-Asian bias – unfortunately, the most we have had since our Hate Crimes Unit was established in 2010."
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Powell attacked Ma from behind, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly kicking his head before fleeing the scene, prosecutors say. Surveillance video released by the police appears to show an attacker stomping on Ma’s head.
A family representative told The Associated Press that Ma never regained consciousness after the attack and his condition continued to deteriorate over time. Ma was moved in and out of multiple facilities during the past eight months, ultimately dying in a long-term care center run by The New Jewish Home.
Ma and his wife immigrated to the United States in October 2018 from China, where Ma was a dim sum chef. After arriving here, Ma obtained work as a general kitchen worker at a Chinese restaurant, making pastries and performing other kitchen tasks. However, when the pandemic hit, Ma lost his job when the restaurant closed during lockdown.
That prompted Ma and his wife, who also lost her job as a home health care attendant, to collect returnable bottles and cans to generate extra money for food, the representative said.