CNN has reached out to Powell’s attorney for comment.
“The devastating death of Yao Pan Ma, a beloved father of two, occurred amidst a surge of anti-Asian attacks targeting our families, friends, neighbors and New York values,” Bragg said. “As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race.”
Powell was arrested shortly after the attack. He told authorities he had been attacked “by two Korean or Japanese men the day before he attacked Mr. Ma,” but said he did not report the incident and did not provide any further description of his alleged assailants, the district attorney said.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) recorded 524 hate crime incidents in the city last year — nearly double the 2020 count, according to a department report. That number is the highest it’s been in at least five years, according to NYPD’s archive.
The most common hate crime bias motivation was anti-Jewish sentiment, according to NYPD data, but hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian bias saw the largest increase between 2020 and 2021.
About 131 anti-Asian incidents were confirmed in 2021 — a massive jump from the 27 reported in 2020, and the single incident reported a year prior.
Bragg, the district attorney, also said his office is prosecuting more anti-Asian incidents than ever.
“The Manhattan DA’s Office currently has 33 open hate crime cases related to anti-Asian hate crimes. The Manhattan DA’s Office prosecuted nearly four times more anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 than in the previous year, along with a significant increase in anti-Asian hate crimes investigations,” the district attorney’s office said.
The 33 incidents, the office said, are “the most we have had since our Hate Crimes Unit was established in 2010.”
And hate crimes in general have risen across the country since the onset of the pandemic.