Hate crime charges for New York driver accused in fatal fender-bender

Queens driver accused beat a Sikh man to death over the fender-bender called the victim “turban man,” prosecutors said Tuesday as they announced hate crime charges against the suspect.

Gilbert Augustin, 30, was indicted on manslaughter and assault as a hate crime in Queens Supreme Court on Tuesday. The new allegations come just days after the family of victim Jasmer Singh pushed just in case be considered a hate crime.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny called the case a week ago “It’s 100% not a hate crime,” he added that Augustine “never suggested that the attack was based on nationality or race”.

Augustin went on a rampage Oct. 19 after his Mustang collided with the 66-year-old father of three’s Toyota on the Van Wyck Expressway at Hillside Ave. in Kew Gardens, prosecutors said.

The two pulled over and Augustin stormed over to Singh, who was still sitting in his car, prosecutors said. Singh’s wife was in the car with him.

A witness saw Augustin, who was driving on a suspended license, say “No police, no police” and repeatedly refer to Singh as “the turban man,” then told the victim they wouldn’t let him go home and didn’t want him to call the police, they said plaintiffs.

Augustin reached into Singh’s car and took his cellphone, so Singh got out of the Toyota to retrieve it and eventually got his phone back, according to prosecutors.

When Singh returned to his car, Augustin allegedly punched him three times in the head and face, knocking the turban off his head and sending him sprawling backwards to the ground.

The back of Singh’s head hit the pavement, causing a brain injury, prosecutors said.

Singh died the next day — the same day an NYPD officer spotted Augustin sitting in his jagged Mustang on 111th Ave. in Jamaica, prosecutors said. Augustin, who had a suspended driver’s license and could not provide proof of valid insurance, was taken into custody.

“This is a case of a fender bender that immediately escalated into hateful language and then brutal, deadly violence,” Queens DA Melinda Katz said Tuesday. “We will show in court that rage fueled by hate led to this senseless tragedy.”

Augustin, who was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Supreme Court on a 20-count indictment, could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted at trial.

His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Singh immigrated to New York from Punjab, India in the early 1990s and settled with his wife in the Richmond Hill area of ​​Queens to raise their daughter and two sons, one of his sons told the Daily News.

Mayor Eric Adams took to social media Sunday to commemorate Singh’s death.

“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved much more than his tragic death,” Adams wrote in the post. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know that you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred promise to reject the hatred that took this innocent life and to protect you.”

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