In a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday, Taj Patterson recounted the horrific beating he says he received in December 2013 at the hands of a gang of 15 to 20 Orthodox Jewish men.
“They threw me to the ground, dragged me on my knees, told me to ‘stay on the ground you f—king f——t,’” Patterson said, according to an account of the testimony in the New York Daily News.
Patterson spoke on the third day of the bench trial of Mayer Herskovic, a 24-year-old Hasidic man who faces felony charges in connection with the beating.
The attack left Patterson blind in one eye. A former fashion student, he has had difficulty reading and looking at computer screens since the attack, and has dropped out of school.
In court, Patterson described being chased by men dressed in traditional Orthodox garb, and then pinned against a gate by the group. “There were so many of them, I stopped running, and I gave up,” Patterson said, according to the New York Post. “Once the thumb was in my eye, I started screaming, and they just kept punching me. I was tripped, they were kicking me, then dragging me on my knees.”
Yet when prodded by Herscovic’s defense attorney, Patterson was unable to positively identify Herscovic as the ringleader of the attack. ““They all look the same to me,” he said, according to dnainfo.
Prosecutors earlier told the court that DNA on a sneaker taken from Patterson during the attack matches Herscovic.
On Tuesday, an NYPD detective told the court that residents of the heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Williamsburg initially refused to cooperate with police investigating Patterson’s beating. Residents only handed over surveillance tapes after a Jewish officer posed as a robbery victim.
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Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.