An NYPD officer is facing hate-crime charges for a road rage incident that culminated in his hurling Islamophobic slurs at a Muslim driver in Kensington, after which he allegedly spat on, punched, and called 911 on his victim claiming that he, in fact, had started the altercation.
Riggs Kwong, 50, is facing a rash of criminal hate crime charges, among others, in Brooklyn Supreme Court, for the incident that took place while off-duty from his position at the 70th precinct on Jan. 16.
Kwong allegedly beat 32-year-old Abdul Motalab until he was unconscious, and then called 911 to falsely report that Motalab had been the one to throw the first punch.
“This defendant is charged with brutally assaulting a man until he lost consciousness while using anti-Muslim slurs following a traffic altercation,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “We have no tolerance for hate-motivated violence in Brooklyn, and the alleged conduct is especially reprehensible because the defendant is a law enforcement officer. The prosecution of hate crimes is a priority for my office, and we will vigorously seek accountability and justice in this case.”
The incident began, according to the DA’s office, after Motalab blocked Kwong while both were driving along Church Avenue. Motalab, who was later charged with drunk driving, then tailed Kwong until reaching the intersection of Church and Ocean Parkway. When Kwong attempted to turn, Motalab allegedly cut him off and blocked his egress.
At this point, Kwong began filming the encounter, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News; Kwong used a number of racial slurs while yelling at Motalab, calling him “Mr. Mohammad,” “Al-Qaeda,” ISIS, and telling him he has sex with his dog.
When Motalab got out of his car and slapped the hood of Kwong’s car, the DA alleges, Kwong followed suit out of his vehicle and spat on Motalab; Motalab returned the favor. Kwong then started punching Motalab, assaulting him until he fell unconscious, the DA alleges.
Afterwards, Kwong called 911, introduced himself as an off-duty cop, and lied to dispatchers and to cops sent to the scene by saying that Motalab, rather than he, had thrown the first punch. Kwong’s account was reportedly contradicted by surveillance footage of the incident.
Kwong’s other charges include assault, menacing, harassment, lying to investigators, and improperly using police lights.
The indictment is welcome news f0r Brooklyn’s Muslim community, says Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, given that such incidents, particularly those perpetrated by police, often go ignored, or not classified as the hate crimes they are.
“Incidents of Islamophobia by law enforcement are too often ignored and not investigated by authorities,” said Mosaab Sadeia, the outreach director for Majlis Ash-Shura. “Today’s indictment is a welcome break from that unjust record and we hope justice is secured in this case.”
An NYPD spokesperson said that Kwong is currently suspended from his job at the department, and that, per department guidelines, he’d be automatically fired if convicted. Kwong was arraigned Monday, after which he was released without bail.
He is due back in court on March 22.
This article has been updated with comment from Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York