A Pakistani Muslim cab driver was indicted for beating an identifiably Orthodox Jewish man at an intersection, and charged with a hate crime.
A grand jury indicted Farrukh Afzal on Friday and included the hate crime charge, after it was presented by the District Attorney’s Office, the local ABC affiliate WABC reported. The NYPD recommended Farrukh be charged with a hate crime, and the District Attorney’s office initially declined those charges, according to the report.
Afzal originally was charged with attempted assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, menacing and harassment, but not with a hate crime since prosecutors believed it to be a case of road rage after being told that Afzal thought the victim was an Orthodox Jewish man who had stepped in front of his car earlier in the day. A second Orthodox man attempted to assist the victim and ran away while being chased by Afzal.
The victim, Rabbi Lipa Schwartz, 62, claims that Afzal shouted “Allah, Allah,” said he wanted to “kill all Jews,” and made references to Israel throughout the October 14 attack, which happened as Schwartz walked to synagogue for morning services. Afzal’s wife told the New York Daily News that her husband is schizophrenic and was acting out because he did not take his medication.
Afzal reportedly has an extensive police record of violent assaults, including eight previous arrests.
The attack took place at about 7:30 a.m. in the Borough Park neighborhood. Schwartz, a Hasidic Jew, was on his way to morning services and was standing at an intersection, when Afzal stopped his car suddenly, rushed at him and began to beat him, according to surveillance footage from the scene.
Schwartz managed to get away when another man approached the pair and Afzal turned to attack the newcomer. Afzal was then restrained at the scene by passersby, while police were called.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.