How the spread of false information impedes an investigation, especially with rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Occasionally, we run into a story that takes a different turn. The power of spreading false information and rumors can certainly impede an investigation. It also impacts those who trust the speculations.

In the early morning hours on March 2, 2021, a Syracuse Police patrol officer found a delivery truck driver unconscious in the HK Takeout parking lot along Erie Boulevard East in Syracuse.

For weeks, the details of what truly happened went unknown. Speculations were made, false information was reported, and rumors quickly spread that the delivery driver, Chak Keung Chan, was a victim of an anti-Asian attack.

But it turns out, he suffered a medical trauma, according to Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.

According to his medical records and his doctors, he suffered a brain bleed. That is unfortunately a natural, reoccurring thing in some people and can be brought on by various factors.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney

Chan was in the Syracuse-area making a delivery to HK Takeout. The delivery was made successfully and his intention was to sleep in the delivery truck that night, Fitzpatrick explained.

At the time of the incident, Syracuse Police checked Chan’s belongings. Chan’s wallet was still on his person with cash inside and he had his cell phone, which leads authorities to believe this was not a robbery.

Multiple surveillance cameras were also reviewed and Fitzpatrick said nothing suspicious appeared, and no roving gang approached Chan’s vehicle.

However, in the current climate of rising anti-Asian hate crimes, blogs, websites, and members of the community could assume that it was a targeted attack, but the District Attorney says jumping to any conclusions can truly harm an investigation.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they have altruistic purposes. However, they have put out a really lot of misinformation about this case, maybe in an effort to garner support for the issue. You don’t need to do that. Anybody that’s a sentient human being can pick up a paper and look at photos of what’s going on in this country and realize there is tragically a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney

“There’s no need to call that a hate crime in an effort to garner support for your cause when your cause is inherently just anyway,” – Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney

Chan’s story is a perfect example of bringing to light the negative effects of spreading false information.

Fitzpatrick said Chan regained consciousness and his ability to speak earlier this week, but still does not remember what exactly happened that morning.

Chan is still recovering at Upstate University Hospital. Syracuse Police’s investigation is still ongoing.

You can watch more of the District Attorney’s interview below.

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