In­sists hockey stick at­tack self-de­fense

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY MOLLY CRANE-NEW­MAN, LAURA DIMON, SHAYNA JACOBS and GRA­HAM RAYMAN With Rocco Paras­can­dola

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 died.

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