A 42-year-old man has pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime when he repeatedly punched an Asian woman and stomped on her in a brutal attack that was caught on surveillance camera earlier this year.
Tammel Esco, a Yonkers, New York, resident, pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree as a hate crime, a violent felony, on Tuesday. He will be sentenced in November, and according to his plea agreement, will serve 17 and a half years in prison, with five years of post-release supervision, Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah said in a statement.
On March 11, 2022, the victim, a 67-year-old woman of Filipino descent, was walking into her apartment building when Esco yelled "Asian bitch" at her. He then followed her from behind into the building, punched her in the head more than 100 times, repeatedly stomped on her body with his construction boots, and spit on her.
Police arrived at the scene and found the woman unconscious on the ground. Authorities said she had facial fractures, bleeding in the brain, and lacerations on her head and face.
"This is one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen; to beat a helpless woman is despicable and targeting her because of her race makes it more so," Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller said in a statement at the time.
Esco was arrested that day and charged with attempted murder and assault as hate crimes.
In a statement from the family via their attorney, Jennifer Wu, the victim and her family said that they were "grateful" for the plea agreement, and that Esco "will be sentenced accordingly and behind bars, where he cannot inflict this harm on anyone else for a very long time."
"It is our sincere hope that Mr. Esco will learn from this experience, understand the suffering and trauma he has caused, and let go of the hatred and malice that drove him to commit such an awful crime," the family, who has declined to share their names publicly, said. "We want to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been with us through this experience and has supported us as we have worked to heal and move forward."
There has been an alarming increase in reports of violent attacks against Asian people — especially older people and women — in the past few years, particularly from the onset of the pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks reports of hate and discrimination incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received almost 11,500 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to April 2022.
But official statistics on hate incidents against AAPI are not always accurate; one report found that they were less comfortable reporting such incidents to the authorities than other races.
Correction: The victim's age and the number of hate incident reports received by Stop AAPI Hate were misstated in an earlier version of this post.