NEW YORK (WABC) -- A parolee who allegedly sucker punched a 52-year-old man outside a Bronx restaurant in August, leaving the victim in a coma, was indicted on second-degree assault charges Thursday.
Prosecutors say 55-year-old Bui Van Phu attacked Jesus Cortez outside the Fuego Tipico Restaurant on East 188th Street in Fordham Heights around 10:30 p.m. on Friday, August 12.
Surveillance video shows Cortez exiting the restaurant and engaging a group of men and women before a man purported to be Van Phu is seen putting on gloves and punching the unsuspecting victim in the back of the head.
The victim suffered from a broken eye socket, fracture on his left cheek, a skull fracture, and other injuries. Thankfully, he has since awakened from the coma.
Van Phu, who was on lifetime parole for sexual abuse and criminal possession of a firearm, was arrested on August 17 and eventually remanded for violating his parole on August 23.
"The defendant, a parolee, allegedly struck a man once, and he fell, suffering terrible injuries," Clark said. "An investigation led to the defendant being charged with second-degree assault. Fortunately, the victim is progressing in his recovery. I have met with him and his family and we are providing crime victims services to them as well."
Police sought to charge Van Phu with attempted murder, but the DA's Office initially charged him only with third degree assault, a misdemeanor that was not bail eligible prior to the parole violation being processed.
Now, those charges have been upgraded to second-degree assault, a felony.
Van Phu's defense attorney says his client is being overcharged and accused the DA of bowing to political pressure.
The investigation remains ongoing, including what led up to the assault and if they suspect and victim had any previous interaction or dispute.
The motive for the sucker punch remains unclear.
According to state records, Van Phu is listed as a Level 3 sex offender on lifetime parole for the Christmas Eve rape of a 17-year-old girl in 1994.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).
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