Yao Pan Ma, a 62-year-old Asian man who police said was bashed in the head in an unprovoked attack in East Harlem, New York, last April, died from his injuries eight months later on New Year’s Eve, a family spokesperson told CNN Saturday.
“The hospital called me on January 1 to let me know that he passed away at 10:30 p.m. on December 31,” family spokesperson Karlin Chan said. “His wife didn’t even get a chance to see him before he died because the hospital was short staffed due to the holidays and Covid-19.”
Ma was collecting cans on a street corner on April 23 last year when Jarrod Powell, 50, allegedly approached him from behind, struck him in the back and then kicked him in the head multiple times as Ma laid on the ground, police said. Powell was arrested the following week and initially charged with attempted murder and two hate crime assault charges.
The New York City Police Department announced Ma’s death Saturday morning and deemed the April 2021 incident a homicide, according to a press release from the department.
An attorney for Ma, Jennifer Wu, declined to comment on the case. CNN reached out to Powell’s defense attorney, Liam Malanaphy, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for comment but has not heard back. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for February 10 in New York Supreme Court.
Ma, who was Chinese-American, was unresponsive and in a deep state of unconsciousness since being admitted to a hospital in April to be treated for his head injuries and his health condition slowly deteriorated over time until he died, Chan, the family spokesperson, said.
“His wife has been devastated ever since the attack and keeps saying ‘He’s always been a gentle, loving family man. Why did this happen to him?’” Chan said.
“I’m hoping that attacks like these are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Chan said. “If you don’t, you send the message to other people that it’s okay to do this.”
The attack on Ma came amid a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans in New York City and across the nation. It happened a little over a month after eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings at Atlanta-area spas.
Chan said a private funeral arrangement has been made for Ma’s close family and friends and is expected to take place next week.