THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — A man is back in jail after he allegedly sucker-punched a man outside a restaurant in the Bronx, putting the victim in a coma, authorities said.
The unprovoked attack was caught on surveillance video on Aug. 12. Victim Jesus Cortes, 52, was standing outside Fuego Típico Restaurant on East 188th Street in the Bronx. Cortes appears to be minding his own business when the suspect, 55-year-old Bui Van Phu, put on gloves, walked behind Cortes and punched him in the head without warning.
Cortes was knocked unconscious onto the sidewalk. He suffered a skull fracture and bleeding and has been put in a medically induced coma, authorities said.
Phu initially walked out of jail following the attack after his charges were downgraded by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, but he has since been arrested for violating his parole.
Gov. Kathy Hochul weighed in on the incident, not mincing words. “That was a horrific situation on all fronts. Our team has been in contact with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to talk about the actual charges that were filed,” Hochul said.
Police initially charged Phu with attempted murder, but the charges were reduced to misdemeanor assault charges, which are not bail eligible under the current laws.
On Thursday, representatives with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office told PIX11 News they reevaluated the charges based on the evidence they had. In an updated statement Friday afternoon, the office stated it may re-up the charges.
Phu has a lengthy criminal record. He is on lifetime parole for a sexual assault case and is a registered sex offender. He is now back in jail.
“I directed the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to immediately examine if this parole violation happened, and yes it did. This was a person on lifetime parole, and as of minutes ago, that person is now in custody,” Hochul said.
New York State’s bail reform laws have been criticized by those who say the laws are lenient and allow offenders back out on the streets, but they have been applauded by those who say the system unfairly targets people who can’t afford bail for misdemeanor crimes.