Jeffrey Babbit suffered a brutal beating at the hands of a black man who shouted “I hate white people” as he randomly selected the 62-year-old for attack.
Now, after lapsing into a coma, Babbit has died of his injuries, raising the possibility of murder charges against his alleged attacker.
Marten, who is black and believed to be homeless, was reportedly grew upset while watching people play chess in the park because no one wanted to play with him. Police said 31-year-old Lashawn Marten made statements that he planned to punch the first white man he saw.
He then punched Babbit, causing the man to fall onto the sidewalk and hit his head. Marten allegedly said, “I hate white people” during the attack.
After the attack on Jeffrey Babbit, Marten allegedly attacked others who tried to come to the injured man’s aid.
Paramedics rushed Babbit to Bellevue Hospital, but he slipped into a coma and was later declared brain dead.
Babbit lived in a co-op in Sheepshead Bat for close to 20 years, caring for his 94-year-old mother Lucille. Neighbors remember him as a gentle and kind-hearted man who loved toy trains and comic books. Babbit was also a retired train conductor.
“Everybody’s broken up about this,” said a neighbor, Audrey Feifer, 75. “If you had to go to the doctor or anywhere, he would take you.”
Marten had been charged with second- and third-degree assault and was being held on $1 million bond. He was scheduled to go before a grand jury on Tuesday, but after Jeffrey Babbit died, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said the charges may be upgraded.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that given the “I hate white people” statement during the assault, the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack on Jeffrey Babbit as a possible hate crime.