CONCOURSE — A drunk passenger punched a Sikh cab driver and stole his turban early on Sunday morning, an incident that police are investigating as a possible hate crime, officials said.
Taxi driver Harkirat Singh, 24, picked up three men and a woman around 5 a.m. on Sunday by 30th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan who said they wanted to go to 165th Street and Jerome Avenue in The Bronx, according to police and reports.
However, when Singh arrived at 165th Street and Jerome Avenue, the passengers complained that he had taken them to the wrong place but couldn't tell him where to go instead, Singh told the Daily News.
One of the male passengers who was drunk then punched Singh in the arm, grabbed his turban and made a derogatory comment about him, police said.
"They're using bad words, also. They said, ‘Ali Baba, f--k you,’” Singh said, according to the Daily News.
Officers described the suspect who stole Singh's turban as a man in his mid-20s who weighs about 160 pounds and stands roughly 5 feet, 9 inches tall. The other passengers are not considered suspects.
Singh told the News he had been wearing a turban since he was six and was worried his assailant was going to kill him.
“At that time, I'm so afraid," he said. "They can do anything to me. They're gonna kill me.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted out his support for Singh in the wake of the incident.
Harkirat Singh — You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD. https://t.co/Vah9tXRLHf— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 18, 2017
"Over the long term, we also call on the New York City administration to make bias prevention a top priority," Jolly said. "It is one thing for law enforcement to respond to hate crimes after the fact, but we collectively need to start thinking about ways to prevent hate crimes from occurring in the first place."