Lashawn Marten, the man who allegedly fatally punched Jeffrey Babbitt in a random attack in Union Square, New York City, has denied he’s a racist.
Marten allegedly shouted “I hate white people” or words to that effect before he slugged Babbitt, a complete stranger, as he walked by on September 4. After being blindsided, Babbitt, 62, a retired train conductor, lapsed into a coma when his head hit the sidewalk. Babbitt — who had been declared by doctors as clinically brain dead — died on September 9 as a result of the beating. According to one witness, the suspect in the Babbitt attack claimed he was going to attack the next white person that passed by. He was arrested at the scene.
Babbit lived in a co-op in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, for close to 20 years, caring for his 94-year-old mother Lucille who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Neighbors remember him as a gentle and kindhearted man who loved toy trains and comic books. According to the New York Times, he may have been coming from or going to a comic book store in Union Square when he was beaten. The Times also reports that Marten “had a long history of arrests, some for assault and drug offenses in New York City and in Newburgh, N.Y.”
Marten, who is reportedly either 31 or 40, has been charged with felony assault and is being held on $1 million bond. He will very likely face more serious charges now given that Babbitt tragically passed away from his injuries.
In a jailhouse interview with the New York Daily News, Marten, who is black, denied that he is a racist. “I’ve punched white people. I’ve punched brown people. I’ve punched Hispanic people. So what? I don’t target anyone.” Marten added that he isn’t afraid of the charges because “I punched a police officer in Newburgh in front of a crowd of people and all his colleagues and I was out of jail in 168 hours.”
The “I hate white people” incident is also being investigated as a possible hate crime by the NYPD.