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Prosecutors Pursue Hate Crime Charges in NY, Oklahoma

— February 11, 2022

Black and Asian Americans are targeted in hate crimes.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted Brandon Killian and Devan Johnson of Oklahoma on hate crime charges.  The agency indicates that “on June 22, 2019, aiding and abetting each other, [the two men] willfully caused bodily injury to two victims because of the perceived or actual race of one of the victims, who is a Black man.”  The assaults happened in the Brickhouse Saloon parking lot in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  The victims are identified in court documents only as J.C. and M.W.

If convicted, Killian and Johnson will each face a maximum sentence of ten years behind bars and three years of supervised release as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

At the same time, Jarrod Powell, 50, of New York City has been indicted on charges of second-degree murder in a hate crime case in which he allegedly assaulted 61-year-old Chinese immigrant Yao Pan Ma in April, who ultimately died months afterwards.  Ma passed away on New Year’s Eve after spending almost eight months in the hospital.

Prosecutors Pursue Hate Crime Charges in NY, Oklahoma
Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

“The devastating death of Yao Pan Ma, a beloved father of two, occurred amidst a surge of anti-Asian attacks targeting our families, friends, neighbors, and New York values,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said. “As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race.”

Ma had been out collecting cans to help pay his rent, according to his family, when he was attacked.  Powell allegedly ran up to him from behind, knocking him to the ground.  He then stomped on, and kicked, Ma’s head multiple times.  Surveillance video captured the entire attack.  At the same time, a bus driver who witnessed the assault flagged down a nearby ambulance for help.  Ma was rushed to the hospital where it was determined that he had sustained a traumatic brain injury.  He was eventually placed on life support.

Powell was arrested on multiple felony charges of attempted murder and hate crimes.  The charges will likely be upgraded to include homicide following Ma’s death.  He pleaded not guilty and told law enforcement officers he had been attacked by two Korean or Japanese men the day before but could not provide a description and did not report the incident to police until after his arrest.

The rise in hate crimes was first recognized in March and April 2020, around the start of the coronavirus pandemic which began in Wuhan, China, and amid “negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic,” according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Bragg reported that his office is currently prosecuting nearly three dozen cases “driven by anti-Asian bias,” which he said was “unfortunately, the most we have had since our Hate Crimes Unit was established in 2010.  Now, more than ever, it is essential that we, as prosecutors and as New Yorkers, remain vigilant and forcefully reject bias-fueled crimes in our communities.”


Two Oklahoma Men Indicted for Hate Crimes

Suspect indicted on murder as a hate crime charge in NYC attack on Asian man

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