Chinese immigrant attacked during wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in New York dies

People hold a photo of 61-year old Yao Pan Ma.
People hold a photo of 61-year old Yao Pan Ma during a press conference in Harlem April 27, 2021 at the site where the attack took place.
(Timothy A. Clary/ AFP via Getty Images)

A Chinese immigrant who was attacked in April while collecting cans in East Harlem has died of his injuries, and his case is now deemed a homicide, police said Saturday.

Yao Pan Ma, 61, died Dec. 31, police said. His attack drew national attention as part of a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York and around the country. The investigation continues.

Jarrod Powell, 49, of New York City, was previously charged with attempted murder, felony assault and hate crime charges in the case. The Legal Aid Society, which previously represented Powell, said he is no longer a client. A message was left seeking comment with another attorney listed in court records as Powell’s lawyer.


Powell attacked Ma from behind, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly kicking his head before fleeing the scene, prosecutors say. Surveillance video released by police appears to show an attacker stomping on Ma’s head.

A police detective said in a criminal complaint that Powell admitted attacking an Asian man at the approximate time and location of the attack on Ma, stating he did so because the man had robbed him the day before.

News organizations reported Ma was a former restaurant worker who had lost his job because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was collecting cans to make ends meet. Ma’s wife has told reporters he was a citizen of China who came to the U.S. in 2019.