MIDTOWN, Manhattan — Building workers who were seen on video witnessing a brutal, unprovoked attack on an Asian woman but did nothing to intervene also did not call 911, police said on Wednesday.
The workers’ actions have raised questions about public intervention during violent crimes.
The 65-year-old woman was on her way to church near West 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue on Monday morning when she was approached by the suspect, who suddenly punched and kicked her, causing her to fall.
The suspect continued to kick her multiple times while she was on the ground, officials said. Law enforcement sources said the suspect told the victim, “You don’t belong here,” before fleeing the scene.
The suspect, Brandon Elliot, was arrested early Wednesday morning. Elliot, who is a convicted felon, was charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime in the second degree and one count of attempted assault as a hate crime in the first degree, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The horrific attack, which left the victim hospitalized, was caught on surveillance video from several vantage points.
One video showed a man inside a building lobby who stopped what he was doing to watch the assault. Later, two more men wearing blazers walked into the frame and one of them closed the door as the woman was on the ground.
The management company who owns the building said that the door staff had been suspended pending an investigation, while the union representing the employees maintained they called for help immediately.
However, NYPD Det. Michael Rodriguez said during a briefing Wednesday that no one called 911 to report the attack.
A spokeswoman for the union told PIX11 that the assumption was they had called 911, but they meant they had flagged a police car.
However, another surveillance video only shows one person who approached the victim after she fell to the ground, and they came from the other side of the street.
Additionally, Det. Rodriguez said police officers in a patrol car came upon the victim after she had been assaulted and called for additional resources to aid in the investigation.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison on Wednesday urged New Yorkers to report any crimes they witness.
“Being in this line of work, our job is to keep you safe. In order for us to do that, we have to work together,” Harrison said. “So if I could just give you some advice: If somebody happens to encounter a hate crime — if you see something, please say something — call 911. Try to get a good description. If you want to remain anonymous, utilize our hotline 1-800-577-TIPS. Please try not to get physical with the assailant. And too often we’ve seen people pull out their cameras to take video; understand that could be detrimental as well.”
Harrison added that police have seen several incidents in which the person who pulls out their phone to record becomes a target for the assailant.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also called on New Yorkers to report incidents of violence to police.
“Here’s an older woman being kicked on the ground. Someone needs to do something. Again, whether it is screaming out, whether it’s calling 911, whether it’s, you know, trying to get the assailant to move away. Whatever it is, it’s a choice people have to make,” the mayor said Wednesday during a separate news conference. “And I always want people to be smart and careful, but that was just horrifying to watch, you know, someone’s standing right there and turning away rather than trying some form of intervention.”
The mayor urged New Yorkers to visit the city’s “Stop Asian Hate” webpage to learn more about how to safely intervene on behalf of others.