A 17-year-old who was arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of O’Shae Sibley is being charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced during a press conference outside of Brooklyn Supreme Court in downtown Brooklyn on Aug. 10.
Gonzalez said the teen was indicted on Aug. 10 and will be arraigned on Aug. 11 in youth court. He is being held without bail.
In a press release the following day, Gonzalez identified the defendant as Dmitriy Popov of Sheepshead Bay and announced more charges. In addition to second-degree murder as a hate crime, Popov was also charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. After his arraignment on Aug. 11, his next court appearance is slated for Oct. 10.
“This entire community — and I’m talking particularly about the gay and queer communities across the country — feel particularly vulnerable at this moment in time,” Gonzalez said. “Many laws [are] being passed in many states that seem to target the LGBTQ community and I think it’s responsible for the increasing rhetoric of hate across the community.”
Popov faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life, Gonzalez said.
The NYPD announced the suspect’s arrest during an Aug. 5 press conference.
Sibley was killed on July 29 after he and his friends stopped for gas at a Mobil gas station at 1921 Coney Island Avenue in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. After a day at the beach, Sibley and his friends were voguing and listening to Beyoncé at the gas station when a group of strangers approached them and allegedly hurled anti-LGBTQ and racist remarks, prompting a confrontation that ended with Sibley’s fatal stabbing. The targeted nature of the alleged attack prompted the DA to prosecute the case as hate crime, he said.
“Get that gay s–t out of here,” the defendant and his friends said, according to the Brooklyn DA.
“You don’t know us, we’re just having a good time and enjoying our lives,” Sibley responded, according to the DA. “It’s all respect, we’re allowed to be here just like you.”
Although the defendant’s friends then left, the defendant stayed and recorded on his cell phone while voicing more hateful remarks, according to prosecutors. When confronted by Sibley and his friends, the defendant allegedly pulled out a knife and pointed it at Sibley’s friend before stabbing Sibley in the side of his chest, which punctured his heart, the DA said.
Sibley’s friend, Otis Pena, who was with him that night and tried to save him, said in a Facebook post after the incident that the group who confronted them “hated us ’cause we are gay!”
“Screaming [we’re] Muslim and we don’t like gays!!!!!” Pena said. “As we are innocently pumping gas and y’all decided to stab one of us!!!”
In recent days, the alleged attacker’s lawyer said his client is Christian, not Muslim, according to the New York Times. Gonzalez, when asked about the alleged comments invoking religion, said he is focusing on the alleged anti-Black and anti-gay comments. He insisted that the religion of the alleged perpetrator does not matter.
The Brooklyn DA also declined to elaborate when asked if others could be charged in the case.
“At this point, the only case I’m going to talk about is the immediate” one, he said.
Sibley’s death prompted an outpouring of emotion and led to widespread demonstrations and vigils across the city. Within days, gatherings popped up in many cities from coast to coast, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sibley’s native Philadelphia, where family and friends celebrated his life on Aug. 8.
A gathering held at the Mobil gas station on Aug. 4 brought hundreds of people who eventually spilled out into the nearby intersection. Gonzalez said representatives from his office attended vigils in Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as the service in Philadelphia.
Given that Sibley was voguing on the night of his death, many of the events held in Sibley’s honor — like the one at the gas station — have emphasized the importance of vogue as an act of resistance since. Sibley was a part of the Ailey Extension program, which offers dance classes, workshops, and more.
Mayor Eric Adams spoke about the case during an Aug. 5 press conference and described it as “clearly a hate crime.”
“This is a city where you are free to express yourself,” Adams said. “And that expression should never end with any form of violence.”