Suspect in Chelsea cab driver hockey stick death claims victim was aggressor

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Darla Miles has more on the altercation that led to the death of 68-year-old livery cab driver Randolph Tolk.

A man charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of a livery cab driver who died after being struck in the head with a hockey stick is claiming that the victim was the aggressor.

Police arrested 39-year-old Kohji Kosugi, of Manhattan, in the death of 68-year-old Randolph Tolk.

Photo: Randolph Tolk

Authorities say the pair was involved in an altercation at 20th Street and 11th Avenue in Chelsea around 11:40 p.m. Saturday. During the altercation, Tolk was hit in the head with a hockey stick.

He then returned to his vehicle and drove south on 11th Avenue, eventually making his way to Horatio Street and West Street in the West Village, where he struck a median. EMS responded and transported him to Lenox Health Greenwich Village, where he was later pronounced dead.

"He was hit in the head, he fell to the ground, the guy put his foot on his chest, held him on the ground," said Fernando Mateo, of the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers. "The city of New York needs to focus a little more attention on taking care of our industry."

In court Monday, defense attorney David Jeffries said the victim was the aggressor and that a traffic violation escalated quickly where both parties could've acted differently. He said because victim could drive away, there could've been other medical factors that led to his death.

It is unclear whether Tolk died from the assault, the collision, or from a medical condition. An autopsy was conducted, but the cause of death is pending further study.

Eyewitness News spoke with Tolk's grieving son on Sunday night. He said that his father was a loving and devoted family man who had two boys and three grandchildren. He was also highly educated, with a Master's degree in textiles from England. When he lost his job in 2000, he did whatever he had to in order to provide for his family, including driving a car 10 to 12 hours a day.

His dream was to join his family in Las Vegas.

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livery cabassaultChelseaManhattanNew York City
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