Council Member Justin Brannan has backed community calls on the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to drop the assault charges against a Bensonhurst father who was arrested for allegedly protecting his 13-year-old son from an adult attacker last month.
Brannan penned a letter to DA Eric Gonzalez on Oct. 17, asking that his office seriously consider the complaints of his constituents who want 52-year-old Ting Duo Lei’s assault charges scrapped — and for the actions of the alleged perpetrator, Hassan Saab, to be treated as a hate crime.
Saab, 28, allegedly showed up at the Lei family’s Bensonhurst home armed with a baseball bat on Sept. 30, searching for Lei’s son Brian — who he had reportedly attacked after Brian and some of Saab’s younger relatives got into a schoolyard scrap on Sept. 28. Lei confronted Saab outside the home, and both were arrested after a violent altercation.
A rally was held Oct. 11 in support of the Chinese-American Lei family at the center of the ordeal.
Organizers of rally told Brooklyn Paper that they intend to hold another demonstration later this month if there are no updates in the case by then. A petition urging the Brooklyn DA to drop Lei’s charges has garnered almost 3,000 signatures since it was started on Oct. 18.
“We urge the Brooklyn District Attorney to thoroughly investigate this incident from all angles and consider the underlying context before proceeding any further with legal action. Failing to do so would only perpetuate an unfair system that punishes individuals for defending themselves and their families,” the petition reads.
Following the Sept. 30 arrests, Brannan said his office has heard from constituents who feel the charges against Lei are unjust and ought to be dropped.
“They feel strongly that, given the alleged actions from two days before, this father had reason to believe his family was being threatened and acted in self-defense by engaging the other adult,” Brannan wrote.
Constituents also claim that Saab was allegedly yelling anti-Asian slurs upon arriving outside the Lei home.
“Due to that allegation, my office has also heard from many constituents calling for the assaults to be investigated as a hate crime,” wrote Brannan. “I know that you will take these community complaints seriously and will carefully examine the facts of this case to determine both whether the victim’s father should have his charges dropped, and whether the other adult’s actions should be treated as hate crimes.”
According to NYPD data, three anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in the 68th Precinct, which includes Bensonhurst, last year.
A spokesperson for the NYPD said the investigation into the case is still ongoing.