Around three p.m. last Wednesday, suspect Lashawn Marten was hanging out near the chess tables in Union Square and became extremely agitated. Gothamist reported (via 1010 Wins) he was angry no one wanted to play him. Witness Michael Benson told ABC Local that Marten said, "The next white person that bumps into me without saying excuse me, I'm going to knock him out." WCBS-TV confirmed a similar quote from another observer:
"He said 'The next white person who walks by, I'm going to [expletive],'" one female witness told WCBS-TV. "His fist went in and the man's head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground."
Babbitt happened to be that white person. Marten, a 40-year-old black man with a criminal record, reportedly hit the victim so hard that he fell down and hit his head. Two men jumped to Babbitt's defense and Marten attacked them too, yelling about calling the police. Instagram photos from the crime scene, like the one below, show the retired train conductor bleeding profusely from the head, as police tended to his aid.
Babbitt was initially conscious, but slipped into a coma at Bellevue. This weekend, doctors declared him clinically brain dead. The retired train conductor was the sole caretaker of his 94-year-old mother Lucille, who'd been by her son's bedside since the assault. Yesterday, he died.
Marten, whose face appears in a photo over at the Daily Mail, was arrested at the scene and later charged with assault. NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the press that the Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the crime. In any case, Marten's charges will likely be upgraded now that Babbitt has passed.
Update: Today's New York Times profiled Babbitt, an avid comic collector who may've been heading to Forbidden Planet that day to pick up a title he'd pre-ordered, “The Art of Grimm Fairy Tales.” (h/t Shingen via BleedingCool.com)
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