Manhattan man booked on murder charge for fatal anti-Asian attack in East Harlem

A Manhattan man was arrested for allegedly attacking a Chinese immigrant in East Harlem last year, ultimately causing his victim’s death, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced on Thursday.

Jarrod Powell, 50, was charged on one count of murder in the second degree as a hate crime for allegedly assaulting Yao Pan Ma on April 23, 2021, which led to Ma’s death eight months later.

“The devastating death of Yao Pan Ma, a beloved father of two, occurred amidst a surge of anti-Asian attacks targeting our families, friends, neighbors, and New York values,” said District Attorney Bragg. “As alleged, Jarrod Powell selectively attacked Mr. Ma for no other reason than his race. Tragically, our Office is currently prosecuting 33 hate crime cases driven by anti-Asian bias – unfortunately, the most we have had since our Hate Crimes Unit was established in 2010. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we, as prosecutors and as New Yorkers, remain vigilant and forcefully reject bias-fueled crimes in our communities. My Office is a safe place to report crimes regardless of your immigration status. If you have been a victim or witness to a hate crime or bias incident, please call our Hate Crimes Hotline at 212-335-3100.”

According to the indictment, at 8:15 p.m. on April 23, 2021, Powell saw Ma, who weighed 114 pounds, on the corner of 125th Street and 3rd Avenue before he allegedly ran up to Ma from behind and struck him, knocking Ma to the ground. Powell then allegedly stomped on Ma’s head multiple times and repeatedly kicked him in the head, face, and neck. Powell then allegedly fled the scene, leaving Ma unconscious on the ground.

An MTA bus driver that witnessed the attack flagged down a nearby ambulance and Ma was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where he was treated for facial fractures and bleeding on the brain. As a result of the alleged attack, Ma sustained a traumatic brain injury and was placed on life support. He remained hospitalized until he died of his injuries on Dec. 31, 2021.

Powell was allegedly identified through video surveillance footage and evaded police capture for four days. He was apprehended on April 27, 2021, and allegedly made statements to police claiming that he was attacked by two Korean or Japanese men the day before he attacked Ma.  Later, Powell allegedly admitted that he did not report the alleged robbery to police and did not provide a description of his alleged assailants beyond their racial identities. 

There are currently 33 open hate crime cases related to anti-Asian hate crimes in the Manhattan DA’s office. In 2021, the DA’s office prosecuted nearly four times more anti-Asian hate crimes than in 2020, and the number of anti-Asian hate crime investigations have significantly increased.