Prosecutors played dramatic recordings of 911 calls at the criminal trial of Mayer Herscovic, the 24-year-old Hasidic man who stands accused of participating in the December 2013 beating of Brooklyn man Taj Patterson.
The recordings of passerby desperate to help Patterson appear to describe a mob attack by Jewish men on the young black man.
In one recording, posted online by the local news site dnainfo, a frightened female caller told operators that a black man was being beaten by a group of Jewish men. “There’s a fight going on,” the woman begins. “There’s like a bunch of Jewish guys beating up a black kid.”
The woman told the operator that she was scared to let Patterson into her car. “There was like 20 Jewish men and one black kid,” the woman says. “I don’t want to go back there, because there was too many of them.”
In another recording, a man asks desperately for help, then seems to forget about the 911 operator and asks someone repeatedly to open a car door.
Herscovic faces felony charges in connection to the beating. Two other men pled guilty to lesser charges in May.
Patterson described the attack during a hearing last week. “There were so many of them, I stopped running, and I gave up,” he said. “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.”
Patterson was left blind in one eye after attack, and dropped out of fashion school.
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Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.