Police: No signs race fueled punch that killed Phoenix man
PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix police say there is no evidence that race motivated an attack on an elderly man who died last month after being punched in the face.
Authorities arrested 41-year-old Marcus Taliafero Williams on Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder.
According to charging documents, officers responded to reports of an assault on Feb. 16 around 11:30 a.m. at a parking lot outside a fast food restaurant on the city’s west side. Witnesses say a man punched 74-year-old Juanito Falcon, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement. The suspect fled in a car.
Initially, Falcon appeared to only suffer abrasions but was taken to a hospital. Doctors discovered a skull fracture. He was rushed to surgery but died from his injuries two days later.
Falcon had been out on his usual morning walk, his daughter, Malou Acunin, said in a statement.
“I have a lot of questions. Nobody should experience what happened to my father. I want this incident to be a cause of awareness to everybody,” Acunin said. “I don’t want the same incidence of violence and crime to happen to anybody, especially to the elderly.”
Acunin called her father “a good man and loved by many.”
The killing occurred amid a recent wave of violent crimes nationwide against elderly Asian Americans, including the death of an 84-year-old Thai man who was shoved while walking in his San Francisco neighborhood.
Investigators identified Williams after witnesses gave a partial license plate and description of the suspect’s car.
He was taken into custody after an autopsy identified the victim’s cause of death as blunt force trauma.
Williams was ordered released Thursday on $500,000 bond and to have a court-appointed public defender. It was not immediately known if he had been assigned an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Police spokeswoman Ann Justus did not give a motive for the attack but said there were no indications that Falcon, who is of Filipino descent, was targeted because of his race.
This story has been changed to correct that the time of the attack was 11:30 a.m., not 11:30 p.m.