Two Queens men were indicted on multiple assault and robbery charges, many of them as hate crimes, in the brutal and allegedly anti-gay 2009 assault on Jack Price, a gay man.
“Acts of violence motivated by hate or intolerance violate the fundamental principles and spirit of equality and freedom on which our country was founded,” said Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, in a January 14 press statement. “When such crimes regrettably do occur, especially here in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those responsible will be brought to justice to answer for their actions.”
Hate crime assault charges expose two men to more than 20 years in brutal beating of Jack Price
Daniel Rodriguez, 21, and Daniel Aleman, 26, allegedly attacked Jack Price, 49, early in the morning on October 8. The assault, which lasted for roughly three minutes, was caught on a surveillance camera.
If convicted, the two could face up to 25 years in prison, with the requirement that they serve at least six-sevenths of that time, or just over 21 years, before being eligible for release.
In addition to the videotape, both men gave statements to the police. Aleman gave two written statements and identified Rodriguez as the second man involved in the fight in a photo array. Rodriguez fled to Virginia, where he was apprehended, and made an oral statement to police there.
Both men are being held without bail on Rikers Island.
In his statements, both of which he wrote on October 10, Aleman describes first getting into a fight with a man other than Price. Aleman wrote that the man was “looking at me crazy.” When Aleman asked the man if he was “a fagot,” the two came to blows.
In the first statement, Aleman wrote that after the first fight he returned to his apartment and slept for a while.
“I came back down after 4:30 and seen somebody I recognized start to fight this guy in the store,” Aleman wrote. “So me being a stupid ass took a couple of cheap shots on the white guy also.”
In his second statement, which he wrote three hours after the first, Aleman wrote that after the first fight, he “went upstairs and changed.” Next, he wrote, he met Rodriguez, whom he did not name in either statement, but rather identified as someone he had “hung with him a couple of times prior to this date.”
The two men went to a bar, Rodriguez left, and then Aleman saw Rodriguez and “the white guy” fighting when he went to a nearby store for a cigarette. Aleman wrote that he did not know the cause of the fight.
“But it came at me and out of the door of the store,” he wrote. “I then hit the guy a few times and afterwards I left back to the bar with the other guy.”
Aleman wrote that he “felt stupid for what had happened” and “felt like total trash for that… I am not proud of any of this and hope that man is alright.”
Rodriguez told police that he knew Price, and that at the store he saw the victim “about to write graffiti on the wall, which he believes is going to be an offer for nasty sex,” according to the statement, written by a police detective who largely paraphrased the defendant. Rodriguez then insulted Price, who left the store.
“They follow him across the street and he yells at Jack, ‘You are the guy who writes that shit on the walls’ and the apprehended other punches Jack and knocking him to the ground,” according to the police write-up of Rodriguez’s statement. “He punches, kicks and slaps him and so does the apprehended other. During the attack, he calls him a faggot.”
Rodriguez told police that after the assault, he said to Aleman, “Let’s go take his shit.” They then rifled Price’s pockets. The police write-up of Rodriguez's statement concluded saying, “He was angry because Jack is disgusting.”
In a January 5 interview, Theodore P. Kasapis, Rodriguez’ lawyer, said the dispute was over drugs.
“We don’t believe this was a hate crime,” he said, following a hearing in the case. “I believe it was more of a neighborhood drug thing.”
The video, which shows most of the assault, will be very difficult for the defense to explain.
At the start, Price is seen clearly fleeing a taller man dressed in dark clothing who appears to be wearing a hat. That man is kicking and punching Price, who is not fighting back. After roughly 25 seconds, a second shorter man who is not wearing a hat enters and also kicks and punches Price. The shorter man is also dressed in dark clothing, but he is easily distinguished from the other man because his top has a large white patch on the back.
The attack continues intermittently for nearly two minutes with the attackers pausing, apparently to speak to Price. The black and white video has no sound and the men’s faces cannot be seen. Before the two men leave Price on the street, the taller one stops to go through his pockets.
According to information on the city corrections department website, Aleman is five feet, nine inches tall and weighs 145 pounds. Rodriguez is six feet tall and weighs 155 pounds.