Insists hockey stick attack self-defense
THE LAWYER for a recreational hockey player accused of fatally whacking a livery driver in the head with a stick in Chelsea says it was self-defense.
Kohji Kosugi, a 39-year-old doctor, was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on a first-degree manslaughter charge Monday in the death of Randolph Tolk, 68, who crashed his car and died moments after their confrontation at 11th Ave. and 20th St. Saturday night.
“The driver played a very, very large and outsized role in how things got to the place they are at today,” Kosugi’s lawyer David Jeffries told reporters.
“There is a very reasonable view of the evidence that the driver was the initial aggressor and that Mr. Kosugi reacted in what could be considered a reasonable fashion, particularly when something spirals out of control so quickly and is unplanned.”
Prosecutors, though, laid the blame on Kosugi. “The incident was captured on video and the defendant admitted to striking the victim with a hockey stick,” Assistant District Attorney Prium Singh said.
Meanwhile, competing portraits of the two men emerged.
Kosugi was mild-mannered even on the ice, teammates said. He often brought snacks to the games at Chelsea Piers. He has no prior arrests. “He’s very popular on the team. He’s not the most outspoken person, more on the quiet side, but has always been very friendly,” one teammate said. “Everyone is just in total shock.”
Nothing notable happened in the games he played earlier in the evening, two teammates said.
“He’s very coolheaded, very measured,” said another teammate. “Just knowing him day to day, he’s the opposite of someone that would be violent at all.” Kosugi’s wife, Janine Cochol, called him “wonderful” as she left their home early Monday. “We obviously love him and he’s wonderful,” said Cochol, also a doctor. It emerged Monday that the victim had his own history with the police. In January 2012, city marshals were towing Tolk’s car and he refused to get out, police said. Officers arrived and tried to remove him. They said he took a swing at them — and then bit an officer hard enough to draw blood.
Tolk was charged with assault, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. The case is sealed.
Cops busted Tolk again on Oct. 1, 2014, for assault, resisting arrest and menacing as a hate crime. That arrest is also sealed.
On Saturday just before midnight, Tolk drove into the intersection and stopped as Kosugi, pulling a cooler and carrying a hockey stick, tried to cross the street.
Tolk’s car was blocking Kosugi’s way. Tolk got out of his car and the pair exchanged words.
Kosugi allegedly whacked Tolk in the head with the hockey stick, knocking him down.
Tolk, of West New York, N.J., got back into his car and continued down 11th Ave. for about seven blocks before crashing into a center divider at West and Horatio Sts., police said.
EMS crews rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he died at 12:40 a.m.
Kosugi acknowledged to police that he hit Tolk, and at some point asked for a lawyer, sources said.
The city medical examiner said the autopsy on Tolk was not conclusive and needs further study.
Kosugi’s bail was set at $500,000 cash, or $750,000 bond.
Kohji Kosugi (above) in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. Kosugi faces first-degree manslaughter charges in death of livery driver Randolph Tolk (bottom), whom he struck with hockey stick after games at Chelsea Piers (below). Tolk later crashed and...