A homeless man who was out on parole for killing his mother was arrested and charged with a hate crime early Wednesday morning in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino immigrant near Times Square, the police said.
The man, Brandon Elliot, 38, was living at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan that has been serving as a homeless shelter, the police said. He was seen on security footage brutally assaulting Vilma Kari, 65, as she was walking to church on Monday morning, the police said.
Elliot was being charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count of attempted assault as a hate crime, Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R Vance Jr, said at a news conference. If convicted, he will face up to 25 years in prison in addition to other consequences related to his parole.
“Mr. Elliot is accused of brutally shoving, kicking and stomping a 65-year-old mother to the ground after telling her that she didn’t belong here,” Vance said at a joint news conference with the city’s police commissioner, Dermot F Shea.
“So, let me join the commissioner in being clear: This brave woman belongs here. Asian-American New Yorkers belong here. Everyone belongs here.”
The video shows the man kicking Kari in the chest outside a luxury apartment building. After she staggers back and collapses onto the sidewalk, he then kicks her repeatedly in the head.
Officials said that Elliot, who is Black, shouted a number of disparaging remarks at Kari. According to a draft of the criminal complaint, he approached her shouting, “You don’t belong here,” singling her out as Asian, and following up with words that Kari said she was unable to hear.
Kari suffered a fractured pelvis and contusions on her body and forehead, according to the draft complaint.
The horrifying footage spread widely across social media and in news reports, intensifying the outrage and fear caused by an increasing number of reports of anti-Asian hate crimes across the nation in recent weeks.
Elliot, who was arrested late Tuesday, was arraigned in Manhattan on Wednesday night. After a prosecutor asked that he be held without bail, a Legal Aid Society lawyer representing Elliot indicated they had not yet prepared a bail application. The case was adjourned until 5 April.
In a statement, the Society urged the public “to reserve judgment until all the facts are presented in court.”
Earlier in the day, Shea had said the police were also investigating whether Elliot had been linked to other anti-Asian attacks.
Elliot pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2002 after fatally stabbing his mother in front of his five-year-old sister in the Bronx, said Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney.
According to news reports, Elliot, who was then 19, stabbed his mother in the chest three times. He was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to life in prison and was released on lifetime parole in November 2019, after he had served 16 years and had two previous parole applications denied.
Shea suggested that a lack of resources in the city’s shelter system and inadequate social services may have played some role in the attack.
“I don’t understand why we are releasing or pushing people out of prison not to give them second chances, but to put them into homeless facilities or shelters – or in this case a hotel – and expect good outcomes,” he said at the news conference.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have risen sharply during the pandemic, according to police departments across the country. Many of them have been triggered by people falsely blaming Asian-Americans for spreading the coronavirus.
Given the public nature of these attacks, the actions – or inaction – of bystanders have come under particular scrutiny. In the initial footage released on the attack on Kari, several workers in the lobby of the luxury building appeared to do nothing to intervene, which heightened anger online.
This article was first featured on 31 March, 2021 in The New York Times.