Jasmer Singh, 66, was driving his wife home from a doctor’s appointment on 19 October when he collided with Gilbert Augustin, 30, in Queens.
The two men got out of their cars and had a heated coversation, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The New York Post.
As Singh headed back to his car, Mr Augustin allegedly punched him multiple times in the head and face, causing the man to fall to the ground and suffer a brain injury, per court filings.
Singh, who had a broken skull and missing teeth after the alleged attack, died in the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center the following day, according to his family.
Mr Augustin, who has been charged with induced manslaughter, assault, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, allegedly made remarks about Singh’s turban during the encounter.
“The guy was addressing my father with his costumes, with his turbans,” Singh’s son told CBS New York. “There was no reason for someone to go in that intensity. My father was targeted and it is a possible hate crime.”
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, called on officials to investigate whether the incident was a hate crime.
“We urge law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate whether there was a bias motive for this horrific crime and to bring appropriate charges based on the results of that investigation,” CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher said in a statement Tuesday. “We extend our deepest condolences to the Singh family and the Sikh community of New York City.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams expressed his condolences.
“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved so much more than his tragic death,” the mayor wrote in a statement on X. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred vow that we reject the hatred that took this innocent life and we will protect you.”
The mayor said his office would be meeting with Sikh leaders in the city.
Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs in the US, who faced a wave of post-9/11 discrimination and hate violence, experienced 431 hate crimes in 2022, according to recently released FBI data.