A man accused of physically assaulting and racially abusing a Sikh taxi driver at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month has been arrested and charged with a hate crime this week.
The incident occurred at a taxi stand outside the airport’s Terminal 4 on Jan. 3, a criminal complaint from the Queens District Attorney’s Office said, according to CNN.
The attack allegedly started with a verbal dispute between the victim and the suspect, 21-year-old Mohamed Hassanain, who claimed to be at the airport to pick up his girlfriend.
The victim had parked his taxi at the stand, but Hassanain allegedly blocked his vehicle, Hindustan Times reported.
After picking up a customer, the victim stepped out of his cab to ask Hassanain to move.
In an apparent refusal, Hassanain reportedly tried to hit the victim with his own car’s door.
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He then allegedly proceeded to hit the victim in the head, chest and arms multiple times.
“I saw a cab driver there who cursed at me. I threw a punch and cursed at him,” Hassanain said, as per the complaint.
During the attack, he also allegedly told the driver, “You turban guy, go back to your country.”
The victim, identified only as Mr. Singh, reportedly suffered chest and arm pain and needed to go to the hospital. His turban also fell off during the alleged attack. “No one should experience what I did — but if they do, I hope they receive the same overwhelming amount of support and quick, professional action by the authorities in response,” Singh said in a statement released by the The Sikh Coalition.
Hassanain was arrested on Thursday. He was later charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime, assault in the third degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree, as stated in the complaint.
“The Sikh Coalition will continue to stay engaged in this case. As we did in the aftermath of the attack, we will continue to assist Mr. Singh in his correspondence with law enforcement and ensure that all relevant details are conveyed between all parties,” the organization added.
Hassanain is set to return to court on March 8.