A man who attacked an elderly Sikh man during a car accident in New York, repeatedly calling him “turban man” and fatally beating him has been charged with manslaughter and assault as hate crimes, prosecutors said.
Gilbert Augustin was arraigned on Tuesday on an indictment charging him with manslaughter and assault as hate crimes in the death of 66-year-old Jasmer Singh, whom he attacked after a fender bender in Kew Gardens in the neighbourhood of Queens, District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
During the dispute that preceded the fatal beating, Augustin is accused of repeatedly referring to Singh as a “turban man”.
“This is a case of a fender bender immediately escalating to hateful language and then brutal, deadly violence. We will show in court that it was a rage inflamed by hate that led to this senseless tragedy. The defendant will have to answer to some very serious charges,” Katz said.
Augustin faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder ordered him to return to court on December 6.
The October 19 attack on Singh, which led to his death, came just days after a 19-year-old Sikh boy was attacked by Christopher Philippeaux, 26, while he was riding the bus in Richmond Hill.
Philippeaux punched the Sikh teenager in the back of the head, tried to knock off his turban and told him: “We don’t wear that in this country.”
Philippeaux has been charged with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment.
As the Sikh community raised concerns over the recent incidents of hate crime and assault, New York City Mayor Eric Adams vowed to protect members of the community and gave a clarion call for educating people about Sikhism.