Brooklyn, NY – Just one day after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office dropped hate crime charges against a car service driver who inexplicably beat a Borough Park resident as he walked to the synagogue, a second Chasidic man has come forward saying that he was nearly run down by the same motorist just seconds earlier.
Shia Langsam was making a 13th Avenue delivery for Fish to Dish, a local fish business, on the morning of October 14th when he said he was nearly run down by a car heading down the street.
“He was coming up from 43rd Street and was in the right lane and he moved into the left lane, right next to me,” Langsam told VIN News. “He was maybe 15 inches away from me and I jumped off to the left which Baruch Hashem saved my life.”
Langsam said that he had no doubt that the driver of the car, later identified as Farrukh Afzal, had been deliberately aiming for him.
The driver continued racing down 13th Avenue, said Langsam, veering back into the right lane and going through two red lights before pulling over to the curb, leaping out of his vehicle and attacking 62-year-old Lipa Schwartz as he stood on the sidewalk, as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2yldu1a).
While Afzal was originally charged with assault as a hate crime, criminal mischief and harassment, the hate crime charge was later dropped by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
A law enforcement source who spoke with VIN News on condition of anonymity said that Afzal believed that the victim had blocked him earlier in a crosswalk and that there was no evidence that his behavior was motivated by bias.
Afzal’s wife Riaz Afzal said that her husband is schizophrenic and can behave erratically when he isn’t medicated, according to The Daily News (https://nydn.us/2yRw8gX). While Riaz Afzal and her husband no longer live together, she said that she had spoken him with him a few days prior to the incident and that he sounded unwell.
“I was telling him to go to the doctor but he was saying there was nothing wrong with him,” said Riaz Afzal.
Originally from Pakistan and a driver for Church Avenue Car Service, Afzal has a history of eight prior arrests, including three this year for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, four for criminal contempt and one for criminal mischief
“He is a sweet and kind person, only when he gets sick he’s totally different,” said Riaz Afzal. “He’s two different people but he doesn’t hate anybody.”
Afzal was not licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission and was ticketed twice by the agency for unlicensed operation. A spokesperson for the TLC said that it would have been illegal for Church Avenue Car Service to ever dispatch Afzal on a call.
A manager at Church Avenue Car Service declined to comment on the matter when contacted by VIN News, but the company could be facing potentially serious repercussions depending on the results of an investigation by the TLC, according to the agency’s deputy commissioner for public affairs Allan Fromberg.
“It depends on what we find and their record but if found guilty they could be liable for penalties that could range anywhere from $500 to $800 per incidence of illegal dispatch,” Fromberg told VIN New.
Lipa Schwartz VIN interview below