A man accused of attacking Connecticut State Rep. Maryam Khan (D, CT-5) after an Eid al-Adha service late last month has been charged with felonies.
Background: The incident occurred at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 28. Khan’s attacker, identified as 30-year-old Andrey Desmond, allegedly made obscene remarks toward the politician before slapping her, putting her in a chokehold and slamming her to the ground. Desmond allegedly tried to flee but was stopped by a bystander.
Khan attended a prayer service with her three children, her sister and a friend right before the attack took place. She sustained a concussion and injuries to her right arm and shoulder, while her children now suffer from mental trauma.
“I knew in that moment my body went numb, and I thought I was going to die,” Khan told reporters earlier this month.
New charges: Desmond was initially charged with misdemeanors, including third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree breach of peace and interfering with police.
On Monday, prosecutors upgraded all charges to felonies, save for interfering with police. Desmond now faces three counts of risk of injury to a child, second-degree assault, third-degree attempted sexual assault, first-degree strangulation and interfering with police.
However, Muslim community leaders and members have also called for hate crime charges.
“Dressed as she should dress as a Muslim, outside of a Muslim gathering, he commented on her clothing in ways that clearly indicated he was targeting her religion,” said Imam Zaid Shakir, according to WTNH.
The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) has also accused Hartford police of downplaying the incident.
“There was no mention in the police report about her wearing a hijab or that her children were present,” said CAIR-CT Chairman Farhan Memon. “These are things that were watered down and diluted from the police report.”
What’s next: In his arraignment, Desmond’s public defender stated that he suffers from “significant” mental illness and had just returned from a mental health facility in New York. He remains held on a $250,000 bail and is set to return to court on Aug. 22.