This crime has gained national attention because anti-Asian hate crimes have increased in the United States
In this photo provided to The Associated Press on October 27, 2021, Chinese immigrant Yao Pan Ma is shown hospitalized after being assaulted in April while picking up cans in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood. Ma died on December 31 and her attacker, Jarrod Powell, 49, who was previously charged with attempted murder, assault and hate crimes is now facing a homicide charge. Photo by Karlin Chan via AP
A Chinese immigrant who was brutally assaulted in April while picking up cans in East Harlem has died of his injuries, and his case is now considered a homicide, New York police said on Saturday.
Yao Pan Ma, 61, died on December 31, police said. The attack gained national attention as part of an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City and around the country. Jarrod Powell, 49, of New York, had previously been charged with attempted murder, assault and hate crime in the case, which is still under investigation.
A family representative said the charges against Powell should now be stepped up.
“We are asking the district attorney’s office to turn the charges into murder now,” Karlin Chan, community activist in New York City and spokesperson for Ma’s family, told The Associated Press. “We are fighting for justice. and I hope (Powell) will never walk the streets as a free man. He has to pay for what he did. “
The Legal Aid Society, which previously represented Powell, said he was no longer a client. A post was left seeking comment with another attorney listed in court records as Powell’s attorney.
Powell attacked Ma from behind, knocking him to the ground and kicking him in the head several times before fleeing the scene, prosecutors said. Surveillance video released by police appears to show an assailant stomping on Ma’s head.
Chan said Ma never regained consciousness after the attack and her condition continued to deteriorate over time. Ma has been transferred to several facilities over the past eight months, before dying in a long-term care facility run by The New Jewish Home, Chan said.
A funeral is scheduled for next week.
A police detective said in a criminal complaint that Powell admitted to attacking an Asian man at the approximate time and place of the attack on Ma, saying he did so because the man had flown the day before.
Chan, however, said the men had never met before.
Ma and his wife – who Chan says are “devastated” by what happened to her husband – immigrated to the United States in October 2018 from China, where Ma was a dim sum chef. After arriving in the United States, Ma got work as a general kitchen worker in a Chinese restaurant, making pastries and doing other cooking duties. However, when the pandemic struck, Ma lost her job when the restaurant closed during the lockdown.
Ma had not worked long enough to qualify for unemployment benefits, Chan said.
This prompted Ma and his wife, who also lost her job as a home care attendant, to collect returnable bottles and cans to generate extra cash for food, Chan said.
“They were recent immigrants,” he said. “They really didn’t have any savings.”
The couple have two adult children, a son and a daughter, who still live in China. Before the pandemic, Chan said the couple lost their Chinatown apartment in December 2019 to a fire and had to move in with relatives.