Authorities say 24-year-old Leighton Jennings, now facing charges, attacked 46-year-old Randy Gener only after he kicked his female friend in the chest as part of a dispute between the two.
Jennings was arraigned Wednesday night on misdemeanor assault charges and released on his own recognizance.
According to the complaint, the woman bumped into Gener as they both walked on Seventh Avenue in the early morning hours of January 17. She walked past him, and he bumped her back.
She then turned back to him and apparently threw her clutch purse at Gener's head, but missed. The complaint says Gener responded by kicking her in the chest.
Jennings, having witnessed the kick, jumped out of his car and kicked Gener in the stomach. He also punched the victim once in the face, sending him to the pavement.
Gener was discovered conscious but disoriented by the time police arrived. He remains hospitalized after brain surgery and faces up to a year of recovery.
Prosecutors concluded Gener's injuries were caused by his escalating the incident by lashing out at the woman and were not the result of a hate crime.
"It was not a bias crime," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, calling it instead "a tragic street altercation."
A YouCaring online fundraiser had raised over $56,000 for his recovery expenses.
CLICK HERE for the fundraising page.