‘I was an easy target’: Hasidic patrolmen receive no punishment after assaulting man
On Tuesday, two men charged with gang assault, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, walked away with a sentence of community service and three-year probation for an attack that left 24-year-old Taj Patterson blind in his left eye.
Pinchas Braver, 22, and Abraham Winkler, 42, were two of five men that assaulted Patterson.
Whether Patterson was attacked for being gay or black or a combination, he’ll never know.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons,” Patterson told the Gothamist.
Patterson was walking through South Williamsburg when he was stopped by five members of the neighborhood patrol group known as the Shomrim. Patterson told the New York Daily News it was about 4:00am when the men knocked him down, shouting, “Stay down, f****t!”
Multiple people claim to have seen the attack.
Evelyn Keys, an MTA bus driver, intervened when she saw what was happening. She described the jackets the men were wearing to the Daily News in May, saying, “I know the first letter is an ‘S.’ Under those three letters there was a word that started with an ‘S.’”
“That wasn’t a misdemeanor,” she said.
Mariano Ortiz, 33, told the Daily Mail that his attempt to photograph the attackers’ license plates nearly ended with him being mowed down.
“One of [them] tried to hit me,” Ortiz said.
Despite the witnesses, the case faced a number of hurdles before even be investigated. Patterson attempted to report the attack to the police, but was dismayed to discover that it had been closed a day later. The report said that Patterson was attacked by only one man and claimed that Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent.”
Patterson believes that racial issues factored into their decision, telling the Daily Mail, “I think they saw this black kid . . . and they might have seen the Jewish guys and thought he must have done something wrong because the Jewish guys wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It took his mother, Zahra, to contact media sources for the attack to be investigated.