Police Initially Prematurely Closed Case Involving Alleged Hassidic Assailants Of Taj Patterson, Black Student -- Mother
Taj Patterson after the assault
Taj Patterson says had it not been for the intervention of total strangers he would not be alive today.
The 22 year old fashion student was severely beaten after he says he was surrounded by a group of Hassidic Jewish males who yelled homophobic remarks during the attack, in the early morning hours of December 1, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
There've been no arrests in the case.
The victim's mother, Zahra Patterson, 52, reports that the case was initially marked as "closed" a day after the attack occurred, even though four witnesses provided statements to police from the 90 precinct after officers responded to a 911 call from the strangers.
The witnesses provided police with license plate numbers of two vehicles belonging to the alleged assailants, The Black Star News has learned.
Two of the four witnesses who provided statements to the police declined to comment when reached by phone by The Black Star News; two additional witnesses could not be reached.
One witness is a bus driver who just happened to drive by at the right time, the others were all together in another vehicle.
The report by an officer from the 90 precinct states that cops were searching for one suspect following the attack. The mother, the victim, witnesses, and other media accounts refer to several individuals being involved.
What's more the police report says there was a camera across from the location of the attack.
"I don't want to speculate," says the mother, when asked if she believes police at the 90 precinct had tried to downplay the attack due to the racial sensitivities involved.
"Until proven otherwise. I will remain hopeful," she says.
Ms. Patterson who is an English teacher and former magazine writer says police from the responding precinct, the 90, also didn't take photographs of her son's injuries as far as she knew. The mother took the pphotos herself later after her son was released from hospital.
The New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Unit, from 1 Police Plaza, is now investigating the attack as a bias crime.
When contacted yesterday a spokesperson at the NYPD's office of the deputy commissioner for public information (DCPI), who identified himself as Detective Nell said: "The investigation is ongoing."
He asked that additional questions be sent via e-mail message.
The department didn't respond to the written questions, including whether the case was initially marked as "closed" at the 90 precinct; whether the witnesses interviewed had provided vehicle license plates; and, whether the NYPD's Internal Affairs division was involved in the investigation.
Taj was initially taken to Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, after the assault, by Emergency Services personnel.
"The hospital tells me that they can't find his [ambulance] records. They can't even tell me the ambulance number that brought him there," Ms. Patterson says. "They say the records are missing."
An administrator on duty at Woodhull this morning said she couldn't comment when told about Ms. Patterson's comments about her son's medical records; she said a hospital official would return the call. "I don't know whether they will comment or not."
The mother says she did not receive a call from Woodhull until around noon on Sunday even though her son was taken there about seven hours earlier.
Zahra Patterson says she accompanied her son when he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan for treatment later on that Sunday and released in the evening.
She says even though her son had received a tetanus shot at Woodhull, because the hospital didn't forward any papers, he received a second shot at Bellevue. "So he got two [tetanus] shots on the same day," Ms. Patterson says.
Patterson, the son, tells The Black Star News that he was on his way to his home in Fort Greene, walking on foot, after partying with others to celebrate a friend's birthday when he was suddenly surrounded by several people.
"It was an attack by a mob. There was no conversation," Patterson says, adding that the assailants continued beating him and kicking him after he fell to the ground.
Taj's mother says police later told her that the witnesses saw the assailants trying to drag her son between two cars to hide him from view.
The attack occurred on the sidewalk in front of 475 Flushing Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
Patterson, whose face was severely swollen, suffered a detached retina in his right eye and damage to his right orbital lobe in addition to severe bruises on his knees.
The 90 precinct police report says the assault was reported at 5:45 while the "occurrence" was marked as 4:43.
Ms. Patterson also disputes one media account that described police calling her from the 90 precinct to go and make a report on Monday December 2. She says she got no such call from the 90 precinct.
In fact, on that Monday, Ms. Patterson says, after she called 911 to follow up, two officers who came to her home from another precinct closer to her in Fort Greene, told her to check with three different precincts to find out where responding officers had come from.
After visiting two different precincts, she finally found out that the responding officers had come from the 90 precinct. Ms. Patterson also found out that the 90 precinct had marked the case as "closed" with no arrests.
The 90 precinct's report indicates that the witnesses said there was one assailant; and it states that the suspect's sex was "unknown"; the skin tone, complexion, eye color, date of birth and hair style are also "unknown." A section that asks whether the suspect abuses drugs or alcohol is marked "no"; and, a section asking whether the suspect threatened/attempted suicide is marked "yes."
The report describes Taj Patterson as "highly" intoxicated, "uncooperative" and "incoherent."
Ms. Paterson says after she returned home from the 90 precinct on December 2, [three] detectives came to her home from the Hate Crimes unit and told her they would be handling the case, she says.
The detectives called her son a few days later to inform him that they had recovered his missing sneaker, a size 7 1/2 Jordans, which may yield forensic evidence. The assailants had allegedly tossed the shoe onto the roof of a building.
"I just want my life to return back to normal, to the way it was before this attack," Taj Patterson says. "I know that's not going to be possible."
Patterson is a sophomore fashion student at New York City Technical College and hopes to be a stylist on movie sets and the advertising industry one day. He has had exploratory surgery on his eye at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and is scheduled for a follow up soon.
After Ms. Patterson called, the school agreed to give her son an Incomplete in all his classes.
The family has hired an attorney to represent them Ms. Patterson says; she wouldn't provide a name.