NYC Driver Allegedly Beat Jewish Man Walking to Synagogue in Road Rage Incident

A taxi driver in New York reportedly beat a 62-year-old Hasidic Jewish man on Sunday as he walked to synagogue in Brooklyn, police said.

Lipa Schwartz, 62, was walking in broad daylight on his way to synagogue in Borough Park when he was allegedly brutally attacked by a cab driver. Farrukh Afzal, 37, was driving toward 46th Street and 13th Avenue in Borough Park around 7:30 a.m. before he slammed on his brakes and jumped out of his car. He then proceeded to beat Schwartz, police said.

Surveillance video captured Afzal over the victim in the middle of the intersection while pummeling Schwartz in the head. The victim suffered a split lip, a cut ear and other injuries, according to the blog BoroPark24, which first reported the incident.

"I feared for my life," Schwartz told the blog. "I knew it was either fight my way out of this or I might be dead."

In an interview with WABC, Schwartz said he asked Afzal, "What did I do to you that you tried to murder me? Tell me." Afzal did not respond.

Schwartz told WABC that he did not know why Afzal attacked him, but said he believed it was because he was Jewish. Authorities initially said hate crime charges could be filed, but the investigation led detectives to conclude the attack occurred due to a road rage incident.

Afzal's lawyer claimed Schwartz punched the vehicle's window as he crossed the street, prompting his client to fear for his life, the New York Post reported. The two men reportedly began yelling at each other after Afzal honked at Schwartz for walking too slowly, prosecutors said. Schwartz then punched Afzal's car window, prompting Afzal to jump out of his car and allegedly commit the assault.

The attacker was not licensed by New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The TLC did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

However, in a statement to WABC, the TLC said, "The driver is not licensed by the TLC, and has been summoned by the TLC in the past for unlicensed operation of an unlicensed vehicle and being an unlicensed operator."

Afzal, from Staten Island, was arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault, menacing and harassment. None of the charges included a hate crime component, WABC reported. He was being held in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Police said Afzal had eight prior arrests.