Charges dropped against man accused of knocking Korean woman unconscious in White Plains
Two months after an 83-year-old Asian woman was knocked unconscious in White Plains, the charges against the man arrested have been dropped.
Many in the local Asian American community say they are furious and are demanding answers.
News 12's Karen Hua spoke with the victim's daughter and the county's top prosecutor about what happened.
In this case, the elderly woman's family and Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah agree the situation could have been handled better.
"I still kind of feel numb about the whole thing, I don't know what to feel," says Linda Toh, the daughter of the victim.
Toh's 83-year-old mom Nancy was punched in the face and left bleeding, unconscious on the ground back in March in White Plains.
"She only saw his eyes just before he spit in her face…I do think it's a hate crime because my mom is a very small Asian woman. There was no threat to this man. He didn't rob her. He wasn't asking for money."
The day after the attack, police arrested a homeless man, but in a lineup, Nancy ultimately couldn't say for sure he was the attacker.
Two months later, Toh read a statement from the DA's office: "As justice requires, we are dismissing all charges against this individual."
She and her mom acknowledge it would be unjust to convict the wrong man, but they are still frustrated
"She felt betrayed that she had given her time and her story, and it didn't come out to any fruition," said Toh.
"We obviously take this, and I can't convey enough how seriously, and how much we feel like we let down the victim and the community here," said Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah.
The White Plains police chief admitted vaguely that mistakes were made on their end that allowed the attacker to get away.
"It had to do with the identification…two detectives trying to do two different things in the right way, and that led to some procedural issues that should not have happened," said White Plains Police Chief Joe Castelli.
Another barrier was lack of translators in law enforcement.
Nancy Toh doesn't speak much English, and when she reported the crime to White Plains police, there was no Korean translator.
"They have to be trained to know that language is going to be a problem, you're going to need resources who can translate and be the bridge," says Linda Toh.
Of about 200 officers in the White Plains Police department, Chief Castelli said about two of them are Asian American.
That's 1% - whereas Asians make up 8% of the White Plains population
DA Rocah acknowledges a root problem is the lack of diversity.
"I will tell you because I want to be transparent, there are not a lot of people that would fall in the category of Asian Americans in this office. There are some, but not nearly enough," says Rocah.
The DA's office is still investigating the assault on Nancy Toh.