Sikh man beaten to death in New York spurs calls for hate crime probe

Advocates are calling for a hate crime investigation after a New York Sikh man was beaten to death in an alleged road rage incident.

Jasmer Singh, 66, was driving his wife home from a doctor's appointment on Oct. 19 when he collided with Gilbert Augustin, 30, in Queens.

The two men got out of their cars and had a heated blanket, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The New York Post.

As Singh returned to his car, Mr Augustin allegedly punched him several times in the head and face, knocking the man to the ground and suffering a brain injury, the courts heard.

Singh, who had a fractured skull and missing teeth after the alleged attack, died at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center the next day, according to his family.

Mr Augustin, who has been charged with manslaughter, assault and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, allegedly made remarks about Singh's turban during the collision.

“The guy was addressing my father in his suits, in his turbans,” Singh's son told CBS New York. “There was no reason for anyone to go to 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 to thoroughly investigate whether there was a biased 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 New York Sikh community.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams offered his condolences.

“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved so much more than his tragic death,” the mayor wrote in a statement to X. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know that you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred oath that we reject the hatred that took this innocent life and we will protect you.”

The mayor said his office would meet with Sikh leaders in the city.

Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs in the US, who faced a wave of discrimination and hate violence after 9/11, experienced 431 hate crimes in 2022, according to newly released FBI data.