Off-Duty NYPD Officer Accused of 'Hate-Motivated Violence' in Alleged Anti-Muslim Assault of Motorist

Riggs Kwong, 50, pleaded not guilty Monday to hate crime charges involving an alleged Jan. 16 attack in Brooklyn's Kensington neighborhood

NYPD. Photo: getty

An officer with the New York City Police Department is facing criminal charges following an alleged road rage incident that prosecutors believe was racially charged.

Officer Riggs Kwong, 50, is accused of brutally beating a man and using anti-Muslim slurs during a traffic-related altercation last month, according to a news release from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.

The alleged incident occurred in Brooklyn's Kensington neighborhood on the morning of Jan. 16, when prosecutors say the unnamed 32-year-old victim cut off Kwong's vehicle, reportedly triggering Kwong to go on a racist tirade at the man.

"The defendant allegedly videotaped himself stating to the victim, 'I'm trying to make a left here on the service road and this terrorist is terrorizing me, you're upset because I didn't let you make a U-turn, Mr. Mohammed … Al Qaeda, Terrorist, ISIS,'" the release reads.

The victim allegedly walked over and took a photo of Kwong's license plate, and after Kwong continued using racial slurs, the victim slapped the hood of his car, according to the release.

Kwong allegedly exited his vehicle, spat at the victim, and when the victim spat back, Kwong began punching him repeatedly, knocking him to the ground twice and ultimately causing him to lose consciousness, the release states.

Kwong reported the incident via a 911 call, during which he allegedly falsely stated that the victim threw the first punch — something that the DA's office claims was disproven by video surveillance.

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Kwong is charged with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime, and aggravated harassment, according to the news release. A spokesperson for the NYPD tells PEOPLE he has been suspended from duty.

During an arraignment Monday, Kwong pleaded not guilty to all charges, PEOPLE confirms. Attorney information for the defendant was unavailable at the time of publishing.

"We have no tolerance for hate-motivated violence in Brooklyn, and the alleged conduct is especially reprehensible because the defendant is a law enforcement officer," District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in the news release. "The prosecution of hate crimes is a priority for my office, and we will vigorously seek accountability and justice in this case."

This is not the first time that Gonzalez has investigated Kwong for criminal wrongdoing. The officer previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. Postal Service by using counterfeit postage and engaging in off-duty employment without the approval of the NYPD.

For those charges, Kwong was placed on a 12-month probation reserved for "serious cases of misconduct" and was forced to forfeit 30 vacation days.

Online NYPD records also reveal a history of civilian complaints against Kwong alleging a variety of offenses between 2006 and 2019 — though none of the eight allegations on record were successfully substantiated by a review board, whether due to a lack of evidence, or because the complainant withdrew their filing or failed to cooperate with the investigation.

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