A New York City police officer is facing hate crime charges after he allegedly punched a motorist until he was unconscious while using anti-Muslim slurs, according to the district attorney’s office.
Riggs Kwong, 50, was off-duty when the incident occurred on January 16, according to a news release from the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Kwong was charged with “third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, third-degree assault, third-degree menacing, second-degree aggravated harassment, falsely reporting an incident and improper use of colored or flashing lights,” according to the release.
Kwong pleaded not guilty on Monday, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office told CNN in an email. He has been released without bail and will return to court on March 22, the DA’s office said.
Kwong was suspended from the NYPD following his arraignment, according to the department.
He has been an officer with the NYPD for 18 years, according to his department profile.
CNN reached out to Kwong’s attorney, Thomas Tuffey, for comment but has not heard back.
On January 16, Kwong blocked the victim from driving down Church Avenue, the DA statement said, citing an investigation. The victim then followed Kwong and drove in front of his car as he was turning onto a service road.
Kwong then allegedly videotaped himself saying to the victim, “I’m trying to make a left here on the service road and this terrorist is terrorizing me, you’re upset because I didn’t let you make a U-turn, Mr. Mohammed … Al Qaeda, terrorist, ISIS…,” according to the press release.
The victim exited his vehicle to take a picture of Kwong’s license plate and got back in his vehicle while Kwong continued to use racial slurs, according to the press release, and the victim once again exited his vehicle to slap the hood of Kwong’s vehicle.
Kwong then exited his vehicle and allegedly spat in the victim’s face and the victim spat back. Kwong punched the victim several times, “causing him to fall to the ground and continued to punch him and use anti-Muslim language,” according to the press release.
When the victim stood up, Kwong punched him again, causing him to fall and lose consciousness, the district attorney’s office alleges.
Kwong called 911 and told the dispatcher, as well as NYPD officers who responded to the scene, that the victim threw the first punch, according to the press release.
According to the Brooklyn DA’s office, video surveillance from the scene allegedly shows Kwong punching the victim “without the victim ever punching the defendant.”
This case is being prosecuted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau.