His Name Was David Kao and He Was Strangled to Death for Being Asian

October 23, 2020

This brutal murder took place back in 2009. Many Asian-American news outlets did not exist back then, therefore, we’re taking the time to remind our readers who David Kao was and why his murder was not treated as a hate-crime, especially since the two African-American teenagers admitted they targeted Kao and another Asian male a month earlier because they were both Asian.

David Kao was a 49-year-old Chinese newspaper executive (The World Journal) from Flushing, New York. He was robbed, brutally beaten, and strangled to death by 16-year-old Corey Azor of Queens and 17-year-old Chris Levy of Harlem, on June 11, 2009, while sleeping in his car, according to The New York Post.

The New York Post labeled Azor and Levy “Two Asian-hating teen pals, one the stepson of a cop.” Both teens confessed to dragging, choking, and beating Kao in the backseat of his car before dumping his body on a nearby street like trash. They then went joyriding in Kao’s car for two days.

Both teens also admitted to robbing another Asian man in Flushing a month earlier and also admitted they targeted both men because they were Asian. By that admission, Kao’s murder should have been treated as a hate-crime, right? District Attorney Richard Brown didn’t think so. Specifically targeting Asians for anything is not considered a hate-crime.

In the end, Corey Azor and Chris Levy both pleaded guilty for manslaughter and robbery; Azor got 20 years, while Levy got 22 years, according to Gothamist.

District Attorney Richard Brown and the NYPD gave both teens the benefit of the doubt. They were initially charged with murder and believed the teens’ story when they stated they did not mean to kill Kao. Both teens admitted they targeted Kao because he was Asian, however, that’s not considered a hate-crime.

Kao’s relatives, including his niece, 29-year-old Christine Chu, who was raised by Kao after her father died said in a Queens courtroom, “The thought of writing this impact statement made me sick to my stomach, because how can you describe the impact of losing my uncle?…[He] was always just a phone call away when I needed him.”

According to the New York Times, “When offered a chance to speak after Ms. Chu’s statement, Mr. Levy turned and, appearing to smirk, briefly faced the Kao family. ‘I apologize to the family,’ he said. ‘Thanks to my family for standing by my side.'” Azor said, “After hearing the speech, there is nothing I can say to take up for the loss or take away the pain of the family.”

Before sentencing, Levy’s attorney, Robert Weinstein criticized his client’s proposed sentence, and started to tell the court, “He didn’t intentionally kill Mr. Kao, no weapons were involved. Kao was severely intoxicated…,” prompting Justice Gregory Lasak to ask, “Before you go any further, do you want to go to trial?… He faces 50 years. Do you want to go to trial?” Weinstein stopped. Lasak later told Azor and Levy, “There is no winners here in this courtroom, only losers. You two will probably lose the best years of your lives in prison,” according to the Gothamist.

Feature Images via The New York Times

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