A 39-year-old man has been charged with manslaughter after police say he struck an Uber driver in the head with a hockey stick before the driver crashed and died Saturday.
Kohji Kosugi was arrested Sunday in the death of 68-year-old Randolph Tolk, NBC New York reports.
Investigators are working to determine if the blow to the head from the hockey stick or the crash killed Tolk, the news station reports.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kosugi Hit Tolk’s Car With His Hockey Stick & Then Struck Him Across the Head While They Were Exchanging Words on the Street, Witnesses Say
Kohji Kosugi was leaving the ice rink at Chelsea Piers about late Saturday night, just before midnight Sunday, when he got into an altercation with Uber driver Randolph Tolk at the intersection of 11th Avenue and 20th Street, CBS New York reports.
It’s not clear what led to the altercation, but witnesses said Kosugi began striking Tolk’s car with his hockey stick, and Tolk got out to confront him, according to CBS New York. As they exchanged words, Kosugi struck Tolk across the head with the hockey stick, the news station reports.
“He fell on the ground. The guy put his foot on his chest, held him on the ground,” Fernando Mateo of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said at a press conference Sunday.
Tolk got back into his car and drove 10 blocks down the West Side Highway, before crashing into a median at Horatio Street. It is not clear yet if the crash or the head shot killed him, police said.
“If he wouldn’t have gotten hit, he wouldn’t have died. So we don’t know the reason for his death was, but we believe it’s associated with the blow he took to the head,” Mateo told reporters.
2. Tolk Was a University of Miami Graduate Who Began Driving After Losing His Job in the Garment Industry, His Son Says
Randolph Tolk, a Brooklyn native and grandfather of three, graduated from the University of Miami and had a long career in the garment industry, before being laid off in 2000, his son, Andrew Tolk, told the New York Daily News. The younger Tolk said his father began driving for Uber and other livery companies off and on.
Andrew Tolk told the newspaper that he wanted his father to move closer to where he lives, in Las Vegas.
“He couldn’t leave New York,” Tolk told the Daily News. “The man is obsessed with New York. He would put everyone else before himself. I’m numb.”
3. The Federation of Taxi Drivers Says Kosugi Is a ‘Coward’ & ‘Beating an Elderly Man With a Hockey Stick Is Unforgivable’
The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers has issued a $1,000 reward for information about the assault, the union announced Sunday at a press conference.
“The attacker is a coward and should be in jail — beating an elderly man with a hockey stick is unforgivable,” Jose Viloria, a spokesman for the federation, told NBC New York.
“I believe that that young man that killed him, or that beat him and caused his death, deserves to go to jail for a very long time,” Fernando Mateo, the union’s head, said at the press conference.
Mateo told the New York Daily News, “We always advise our drivers not to get out of their vehicles and avoid confrontations with anyone, but we don’t know what led to this tragedy.”
4. Kosugi Did Not Say Anything When He Was Walked Out of the Local Detective’s Bureau
Kosugi was led out of the 10th Precinct’s Detective Squad Sunday night after being interviewed and charged with manslaughter, PIX 11 reports. He did not say anything to reporters and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney.
He is expected to face a judge in criminal court Monday for his arraignment, CBS New York reports.
“This guy belongs in jail, he’s a punk to say the least,” Fernando Mateo, of the taxi drivers’ union, told CBS New York. “It was cowardly, the disregard and disrespect for the elderly in this city has grown and continues to grow. We need to put a stop to it.”
5. He Says on Linkedin That He Is a Doctor & Has Done Research With Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Staff
Kosugi says on Linkedin that he is a medical doctor in the greater New York area, but a search of public records in New York state does not show that he is licensed to practice medicine there. Kosugi is listed as a researcher in a 2013 report published by staffers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, along with a 2014 report.
On his Facebook page, Kosugi is pictured with other members of the Green Front Restaurant hockey team in a 2015 photo.
“Due to the overload of political posts i will be checking fb once a week on sundays. peace y’all,” Kosugi wrote in the intro section of the page.