NEW YORK — A lawyer for an adult hockey player accused of killing an Uber driver with his stick during a traffic dispute said Monday that his client — who attended Siena College — did not cause the driver’s death.
The hockey player, Kohji Kosugi, 39, a restaurant worker who lives in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, was formally charged Monday afternoon with intentional manslaughter in Criminal Court in Manhattan. Judge Gerianne Abriano set bail at $750,000, and Kosugi was still being held early Monday night.
Prosecutors said Kosugi had admitted striking the Uber driver, Randolph Tolk, 68, in the head with his hockey stick just before midnight Saturday during an altercation at 11th Avenue and West 20th Street, near the Chelsea Piers sports complex, where Kosugi had just won a hockey game with his team, the Tsunami.
The fight, recorded on a security camera, started when Kosugi, wielding his hockey stick, hit the Toyota Camry that Tolk was driving. Tolk got out and confronted him and was beaten, according to prosecutors. Then Tolk climbed back in his car and drove another 10 blocks before crashing into a median near Horatio Street. He was pronounced dead at a hospital at 12:40 a.m.
Kosugi’s lawyer, David Jeffries, said Kosugi may have been involved in the fight, but Tolk had died as a result of the car crash or some underlying medical condition. “The investigation is going to support the fact that Kosugi is not the cause of this very unfortunate and tragic outcome,” he said.
Kosugi came to the United States from Japan with his family when he was 10, his lawyer said. After attending boarding schools, he studied biology at Siena, according to the school’s alumni site. He then received a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health from St. George’s University in Grenada, leaving the island in 2007.
In 2009, he obtained a license to practice medicine in New York state, but it has since expired and he now works in a restaurant. According to the Siena College page, he was a staff radiologist at Brooklyn Hospital Center from 2007-11.
Kosugi also worked as a volunteer on two research projects at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where his colleagues remembered him as diligent and polite. “He was a very hard worker,” said Dr. Malcolm A.S. Moore, a cell biologist at the center. “There were no red flags in that regard.”
Two teammates of Kosugi, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to become entangled in the case, said he was an even-keeled player. He never brawled on the ice, and was quick to encourage his teammates with a laugh or a joke. He was in a good mood the night of his arrest after scoring two goals and winning back-to-back games, they said.