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New York City man indicted on hate crime charges in attack on two women of Korean descent

Prosecutors say the suspect threw an unidentified liquid at them, yelled anti-Asian remarks and spat on one of the women at a subway station.
Image: Subway in New York City
A subway train pulls into a station under Rockefeller Center, in New York City.Gary Hershorn / Getty Images file

A New York man was indicted this week on hate crime charges after prosecutors claim he attacked two women of Korean descent in a New York City subway station.

Derrick Johnson, 40, allegedly threw an unidentified liquid at two women entering the Rockefeller Plaza subway station on May 8, then yelled anti-Asian remarks and spat at one of them, according to court documents filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Johnson is charged with two counts of third-degree assault as a hate crime and two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment, a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Commissioner said in an email.

One of the women, a 26-year-old, fell to the ground after Johnson charged her, yelling remarks that included, “I don’t know why you’re here!” and spitting on her before fleeing the station, prosecutors said in court documents.

Johnson was arrested on May 27, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said. 

The woman sustained significant bruising to her arms and legs and pain and swelling to her head and jaw, the Manhattan DA’s office said in a news release. She refused medical treatment at the scene, it said.

Johnson’s legal counsel did not respond to a request for comment.

“The subway is central to our city, and riders of all backgrounds deserve safety when they travel,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. said in the release. “The rise of bias-driven crimes is unacceptable.” 

Hate crime data published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% in 2021 over the previous year with some cities, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, surpassing their record numbers in 2020.