New York City police say a Chinese immigrant who was brutally attacked in April while collecting cans in East Harlem died of his injuries.
NEW YORK – A Chinese immigrant who was brutally attacked in April while collecting cans in East Harlem died of his injuries, and his case is now considered a homicide, New York City police said Saturday.
Yao Pan Ma, 61, died on December 31, police said. The attack attracted national attention as part of a surge in hate crimes against Asians in New York and across the country. Jarrod Powell, 49, of New York City, was previously charged with attempted murder, serious battery and hate crimes in the case, which remains under investigation.
A representative for the family said the charges against Powell should now be improved.
“We are asking the District Attorney’s Office to update the charges to murder now,” Karlin Chan, a community activist in New York City and a spokesperson for Ma’s family told The Associated Press. I hope (Powell) never walks the streets a free man. You need to pay for what you did. “
The Legal Aid Society, which previously represented Powell, said he is no longer a client. A message seeking comment was left with another attorney listed in court records as Powell’s attorney.
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.
Chan said that Ma never regained consciousness after the attack and that his condition continued to deteriorate over time. Ma was transported in and out of multiple facilities over the past eight months, eventually dying in a long-term care facility run by The New Jewish Home, Chan said.
A funeral is being planned for next week.
A police detective said in a criminal complaint that Powell admitted to attacking an Asian man at the approximate time and place of the attack on Ma, claiming he did so because the man had robbed him the day before.
Chan, however, said the men had never met before.
Ma and his wife, whom Chan said is “devastated” by what happened to her husband, immigrated to the US in October 2018 from China, where Ma was a dim sum chef. After coming to the US, Ma got a job as a general kitchen worker at a Chinese restaurant, making cakes and doing other kitchen chores. However, when the pandemic struck, Ma lost her job when the restaurant closed during shutdown. He hadn’t worked long enough to qualify for unemployment benefits, Chan said.
That led Ma and his wife, who also lost her job as a home health aide, collecting returnable bottles and cans to generate extra money for food, Chan said.
“They were recent immigrants,” he said. “They really had no savings.”
The couple have two adult children, a son and a daughter, who still live in China. Before the pandemic, Chan said the couple lost their Chinatown apartment in December 2019 to a fire and had to move in with relatives.