A transient man has been arrested and charged after allegedly punching an Asian man in New York City.
The incident, which left the victim with multiple stitches, occurred on Fourth Avenue near Union Square around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Saul Babilonia, 58, allegedly approached the Asian man waiting for a bus and asked for money.
When the 57-year-old commuter walked away, Babilonia followed him, allegedly called him a “stupid Chino” — which means Chinese in Spanish — and punched him in the face.
The victim was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he received nine stitches to close a deep wound on his forehead.
Babilonia was arrested shortly after the attack and charged with felony assault and aggravated harassment as a hate crime, according to the New York Post.
“In this case, the defendant approached, followed, and attacked an Asian man on the street, calling him ‘stupid chino’ after the complainant refused to give him money, and causing a large gash to the complainant’s forehead,” said Assistant District Attorney Yesenia Brewster, according to the New York Daily News.
Babilonia has a lengthy criminal record, including a 2016 conviction for failure to register an address.
Meanwhile, Laisa Pertet, Babilonia’s attorney, said that her client has mental health issues, lives in poverty and has no family. She said he may be guilty of panhandling and misdemeanor assault, but not a hate crime.
“This person was not intentionally selected as would be required [under the law],” Pertet said. “The mere mention of ‘Chino’ translates to ‘Chinese’ in Spanish does not support the idea that this was a hateful, intentional offense based on race.”
Babilonia will return to court on Friday.