En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Gay City News
Subject: TGNCIQ Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Hate Crime Victim Brain-Dead

A brutal attack in which three men wielded an aluminum baseball bat and a beer
bottle as well as anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs has left one of two Ecuadorean
brothers, walking home in Bushwick early on the morning of December 7,
brain-dead, kept breathing solely through the use of a ventilator.

 

Jose
O. Sucuzhanay, 31, and his brother Romel, 38, were near the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and
Kossuth Place,
just around the corner from Jose’s apartment, at approximately 3:30 a.m. Sunday
morning, when a carload of men jumped out and assaulted the younger man.

 

According
to police, one assailant broke the bottle over Sucuzhanay’s head. After the
victim fell to the ground, another of the attackers began beating him with the
bat. Romel Sucuzhanay managed to flee from the path of the first assailant who
chased after him with the broken beer bottle. He finally prevailed on the men
to stop beating his brother when he showed them that he had a cellphone to use
to call police.

 

There was at least one other witness to the assault
besides Romel, according to police, who said the assailants were black men
riding in a red or maroon SUV. The NYPD released a description of one of them –
a thin man about 6-foot tall wearing a dark cap, leather jacket, jeans, and
boots.

 

Police
and other officials who have spoken publicly about the crime have noted that
the two brothers were walking arm-in-arm, a detail presumably mentioned to
provide some reason why the assailants screamed anti-gay taunts at the men. The
New York Times quoted a third brother, Diego Sucuzhanay, as saying Jose had
been targeted because of his "skin color."

 

A
police source told Gay City News that the assault is informally being treated
as a homicide despite the fact that Sucuzhanay clings to life, and a
spokesperson for the Medical Examiner’s office said that no death certificate
has been filed but that the office was notified of the situation.

 

Sucuzhanay
is at Elmhurst Hospital
Center in Queens, and his parents are
en route from Ecuador.
The family said that they are awaiting their arrival before making further
medical decisions. Romel had been visiting his brother Jose from Ecuador on a
two-month visa. At a press conference at City Hall on December 8, Diana Reyna,
the Council member who represents Bushwick, said, "The family has made the
decision to not let him suffer any more."


The
City Hall press conference, called by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a
Chelsea Democrat who once led the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence
Project, included a broad swath of political, legal, and religious leaders,
including representatives of the Ecuadorean and LGBT communities, such as the
AVP and the LGBT Community Center.

 

Quinn
opened the session by terming the attack "a hateful and despicable
act" and warning the perpetrators "you will be apprehended, you will
be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." She noted
that both the police and the Brooklyn district
attorney are investigating the assault as a hate crime, and explained how such
an enhancement to the criminal charge would, upon conviction, lead to a stiffer
penalty.

 

Brooklyn
District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has been particularly outspoken and active
among prosecutors in the state regarding hate crimes, and his chief of Civil
Rights & Police Integrity in the Rackets Division, Charles M. Guria, was on
hand to emphasize the priority the case would have in his office.

 

"We
are absolutely shocked and appalled at this senseless and bigoted attack,"
he said.

 

Galen
Kirkland, the commissioner of the State Division of Human Rights, was also on
hand.

 

Walter
R. Sinche, director ejecutivo of Alianza Ecuatoriana in Queens, noted that just
a few weeks ago a gang known as the Caucasian Crew stabbed to death a
37-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcelo Lucero, in Patchogue, Long Island.

 

Carmen
E. Arroyo, a Bronx state assemblywoman who
chairs the Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus, said of the attack on Sucuzhanay,
"It was not a crime against one person, it is a crime against a
community."

 

The
AVP will join with
Make the Road NY, a Bushwick-based
social action group, and other organizations to express their outrage over the
attack at
Make the Road’s office at 301 Grove Street,
near the intersection of Myrtle and Irving Avenues, on Sunday, December 14 at 2
p.m. The closest subway stops are Myrtle-Wyckoff on the L and Knickerbocker on
the M. Call 718-418-7690 for more information.