DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The victim of a gang assault linked to Williamsburg's Shomrim Security Patrol couldn't definitively identify his attacker during his testimony Wednesday at the trial of the last men to face charges for the 2013 assault.
At first Taj Patterson, 25, referred to one of his attackers as "the middle man" because he stood between two others who punched and kicked him while two others had his arms pinned to a gate, during his testimony against Mayer Herskovic, 24, in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Patterson called that man the "ringleader" and said he'd later shoved his thumb into Patterson's right eye and grabbed his sneaker and flung it onto a nearby roof. He presumed the man was Herskovic because his DNA was later found on Patteron's Air Jordan sneaker, according to prosecutors.
But Herskovic's defense attorney Israel Fried later presented Patterson with earlier testimony he'd made to a grand jury where he'd identified another man as "the middle man."
"The person in the middle was not Mayer Herskovic?"
“Not sure,” Patterson replied.
Fried asked Patterson how the men were dressed and Patterson eventually admitted he had a hard time telling them apart.
“They all look the same to me,” Patterson said, referring to the men's white shirts and black pants.
In his testimony Wednesday, other details emerged from the 2013 attack that had occurred while he was on his way home after getting dropped off from a party bus for his friend's birthday on Dec. 1 at around 4:30 in the morning.
“There was 20 people coming for me, every car I tried to stop wasn’t helping so I gave up,” Patterson said, who ran up to three passing cars hoping for a savior, then surrendered to the large group of men.
“I was asking why we doing this,” Patterson said. “I was yelling for them to stop. I was yelling for help from people in the streets.”
“I got kicked in the face. I was told to stay down you f--king f-ggot,” he said.
“I was knocked to the ground, I was kicked in the face, I was dragged, I was being held between cars,” Patterson recounted.
Since the 2013 attack, Patterson, who had been studying fashion at City Tech, dropped out of school and quit his job as a tutor because of the physical and emotional trauma of the incident, he said.
“Reading is a very big headache, looking at a computer screen for a very long time, it physically hurts,” Patterson said.
His right eye could now only see whether it's light or dark out and it has no peripheral vision or depth perception, Patterson testified.
“Because of the eye, the trauma, emotionally physically, I wasn't able to. I couldn’t be in a large crowd situation.”
Two other men involved in the attack — Pinchas Braver and Abraham Winkler — pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment charges and were ordered to complete 150 hours of community service, according to prosecutors.
Charges were dropped against two other men originally indicted back in 2014.
Patterson currently has two pending lawsuits, one against the Shomrim Security Patrol for their involvement in the attack and one against the city in federal court for how the 90th Precinct handled the investigation.