New York police on Wednesday charged a suspect in a brutal, videotaped assault of a 65-year-old Asian-American woman that sparked outrage amid a surge of anti-Asian violence in the United States.
Police identified the man as 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, who was released from prison in 2019 on lifetime parole for stabbing his mother to death in front of his five-year-old sister in 2002.
A spokesperson said NYPD officers arrested Elliot late Tuesday, near the scene of the crime, at a Times Square hotel that is housing homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.
He was charged with felony assault as a hate crime in the early hours of Wednesday, police said in a statement.
The attack, which took place on a sidewalk in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan on Monday, was caught on CCTV footage from inside an adjacent building and showed bystanders seemingly looking on without intervening.
In the video, posted online by police, the suspect can be seen walking up to the woman and kicking her in the stomach, knocking her to the ground.
He then kicks her several times in the head before walking away. He “made anti-Asian statements” towards the victim, police said.
The video also shows a man, who appears to be a delivery worker, watching the attack unfold from inside the building.
He is then joined by two other men, one of whom closes the door rather than coming to the woman’s aid as the assailant walks away.
The victim, whose identity has not been released, was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including a fractured pelvis. She has since left the hospital, according to local media.
Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance said Elliott faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The violence and apparent reluctance of witnesses to help the victim sparked uproar.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the attack was “horrifying and repugnant,” adding that anti-Asian violence was becoming “an epidemic” across the country that “must stop now.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on anyone who witnesses an attack to “literally shout” to disturb the aggressor and attract attention.
President Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday that he was taking “additional steps” in the wake of rising violence against Asian-Americans, including “establishing an initiative” at the Justice Department to address anti-Asian crimes.
New York and other US cities have seen an upsurge in crimes against people of Asian descent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with activists attributing the rise to repeated references by former president Donald Trump and others to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus.”
Earlier this month, six women of Asian descent were killed when a shooter attacked three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta. Authorities are still weighing whether that attack should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
The NYPD has stepped up its presence in neighborhoods with high Asian immigrant populations, while volunteer groups have formed safety patrols.
Several demonstrations expressing solidarity with Asian-American communities have also taken place.
Influential civil rights activist Al Sharpton and several candidates running to replace De Blasio have attended those events.
New York has more than one million inhabitants of Asian descent.
In the week of March 15 to 21, police recorded a total of nine hate crimes, up from three in the same period of 2020.