The head of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force has been reassigned as part of a shakeup within the department, as the city grapples with fresh concerns about anti-Asian hate crimes following the stabbing death of an Asian woman in her Chinatown apartment.
The NYPD insists Inspector Jessica Corey’s reassignment isn’t disciplinary in nature, but it comes a day after Mayor Adams suggested he’d make changes following an ABC 7 reporter recounting that an Asian crime victim claimed her allegations of bias weren’t taken seriously.
“I don’t want a leader in that area that starts off with saying why something is not a possible hate crime,” Adams told ABC 7. “It would be troubling to me if someone is not clear on a direction I want my hate crime unit to perform.”
The ABC 7 report focused on the case of Esther Lee, who was spit on by a man on an A train after she refused to give him a fist bump. She took video of the encounter, which included a nasty moment in which the man called her a “carrier.”
Lee said the detective who handled the case refused to use the man’s words in his report, and when she reached out to Corey, the high-ranking cop dismissed her.
“Jessica Corey telling me, ‘You know you really should not have filmed him, You really should not have taken your phone and started taking footage of him because you probably triggered him,’” Lee recounted to ABC.
In a statement Wednesday, Sgt. Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesman, said the incident did not factor into Corey’s reassignment.
“The incident was looked into by the Hate Crime Task Force, and both parties were interviewed. A conferral was made with the NYPD’s Legal Bureau as well as the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a legal determination was made that the facts of the case did not meet current hate crime statutes,” Riley said in the statement, noting the city saw 130 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021, and made 85 anti-Asian hate crime arrests.
“Recent changes to the Hate Crime Task Force were not related to this case, nor were they disciplinary in nature. All transfers and command assignments are made based on the needs of the department,” the statement reads.
The transfer comes as the city grapples with the Sunday murder of Christina Lee, 35, who police say was stalked and stabbed to death by a homeless man who followed her into her Chrystie St. apartment, and the Jan. 15 killing of Michelle Go, 40, who was shoved by a stranger in front of a Times Square subway.
Though both victims were Asian, investigators have not ruled either killing a hate crime.