Fifty-two-year-old Daryl Jackson, who remains at Nassau University Medical Center recuperating from injuries to his head, neck and back, still doesn’t know why the attack happened in the first place.
“I’m in very bad pain,” he said in a hospital interview with Newsday. “I don’t understand it. I wasn’t bothering anyone.”
According to his account, three Hispanic men came up to him as he was standing in front of a deli, and asked him to move. When he told them he was waiting to use a pay phone, one of the men started hurling racial slurs and told him to “Go back to Africa,” Jackson said.
“I told them this is a free country and I can stand where I want to stand,” Jackson said. “I said, ‘Why are you bothering me?’ and then they surrounded me and they started beating me. I tried to get away and one of them hit me in the back of my neck. I felt two hits … and then I lost consciousness.”
A motorist driving near the scene says he witnessed eight Hispanics yelling racial epithets, swinging bats and beating Jackson and had to intervene.
“I jumped out of my car and I told the guys, ‘Hey, hey, what are you doing?’” Dave Tillery told Newsday.
Nassau County official Thomas Suozzi doesn’t doubt the racial nature of the crime, but says police want to make sure race was a motivating factor before calling it a hate crime. “There is no question that a violent crime has taken place and there’s no question that racial epithets were used in the attack. It’s a heinous crime and people will pay for it,” he said.
In the meantime, Tillery will be recognized for his efforts with a Good Samaritan award from the town of Hempstead, said town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.