An Asian man who was brutally attacked in Harlem last year has died, New York police confirmed on Saturday. Yao Pan Ma, 61, died of his injuries on December 31, police said, and the case is now being treated as a homicide.
Ma was approached from behind and hit in the back last April 23. He fell to the ground and the suspect allegedly kicked him multiple times in the head before fleeing, police said. Ma was taken to the hospital where he remained until his death.
Jarrod Powell, 49, was arrested four days later and charged with attempted murder and two counts of assault — hate crimes. The exact charges he is now facing are not yet clear.
The attack, which is still being investigated, came amid a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. One study found that reports of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020, even as hate crimes fell overall by 7%. New York saw the highest jump in reports.
As of August last year, more than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents had been reported since the start of the pandemic, according to a report from the nonprofit coalition Stop AAPI Hate. Some have blamed the rise of anti-Asian American discrimination on former President Trump’s rhetoric in his description of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ma’s wife, Baozhen Chen, spoke to CBS New York in April, when her husband was in a coma.
“This should not happen to my husband or anyone else. This is America,” she said. “I’m very scared right now. I’m so worried that my husband might never come back.”
She said her husband, who immigrated to America in 2018 from China, had recently lost his dishwashing job and was collecting cans to support his family before he was attacked.
“I am very panicked and sad,” Chen told CBS New York. “My husband is very hardworking and nice person.”
Jordan Freiman contributed reporting.
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