Man accused of punching NYC man who later died in possible bias attack denies race was factor

A man police say punched a 62-year-old New York City man in a park after threatening to "punch the first white man" he saw denies race played a role in the assault.

Lashawn Marten told the Daily News ( ) in a jailhouse interview Thursday he's punched people of various races and doesn't target anyone.

Authorities say Jeffrey Babbitt died after he was struck, fell backward and hit his head last week in Union Square Park.

Babbitt is white. Marten is black.

The 31-year-old Marten declined to discuss details of the alleged attack but asked to see an autopsy report and a death certificate.

Marten is being held on an assault charge, but upgraded charges are possible.

A lawyer for Marten was not immediately available for comment.


Information from: Daily News,