By Patrick Donachie
The lawyer for a Jamaica man who was assaulted this spring has called on the Queens district attorney to prosecute the attack as a hate crime.
The request came during a news conference at Queens Criminal Court Monday afternoon, when attorney Ali Najmi stood with his client, Gazi Rahman, and displayed pictures and video of the incident that occurred May 7.
At about 8 p.m. that evening, according to Najmi, Rahman, 46, was standing near the corner of Hillside Avenue and Parsons Boulevard when he was approached by Christopher Porr. Najmi said Porr began assaulting Rahman, who suffered a broken nose and other lacerations during the beating. Najmi and Glen Rozada, a witness to the incident who attended the press conference, said Porr exclaimed “f— Indians” during the attack.
“We have come together as a community to say we will not tolerate any hate crime, especially in the county of Queens,” Najmi said. He showed members of the press a video of the incident he obtained from an NYPD camera overlooking the intersection, saying he had to file a Freedom of Information request to retrieve the footage.
The video shows a white man who Najmi identified as Porr, approaching another man he identified as Rahman, who is from Bangladesh and has lived in the United States for 18 years. The video, which is without sound and looks as if it is taken from about half a block away, shows the man identified as Porr, who is white, approaching the man identified as Rahman. The two seem to briefly exchange words, at which the point the man identified as Porr violently shoves the other man. After a brief scuffle, the man identified as Porr punches the other man, who falls to the ground.
Both men were arrested at the scene and given desk appearance tickets, which is an order to appear in criminal court at a later date. It is typically used for misdemeanors, but Najmi said it was highly inappropriate for Porr to be issued a ticket and that Rahman should not have been arrested at all. Because both Rahman and Porr were issued tickets, he said, the investigation had not progressed until the first criminal court date July 8.
On the date, Najmi offered the court copies of the NYPD video, with photos and two witness affidavits. Najmi said the DA’s office told him that it would dismiss charges against Rahman, but had not yet made a decision on whether to charge Porr with a hate crime.
A spokeswoman with the Queens DA’s office would not confirm any changes to charges, saying that the office was “reviewing the allegations against both individuals.”
The next scheduled date in court for both men is Sept. 8.
Rahman expressed anxiety about the ordeal, and said police accused him of being drunk when he was initially arrested. When he replied that he never drank or smoked, Rahman said police contended he was lying about drinking.
“I want justice. I want him to be punished for this hateful act,” Rahman said. “Nobody should go through what I’ve been through.”
Rozada, who lives two blocks away from the incident, said he was still frightened to walk around, but pledged to continue supporting Rahman by attending whatever court proceedings would be necessary.
“I saw it happen, I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he said about the assault. “I saw the anger and hatred in his eyes.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona