Suspect in violent, unprovoked attack in the Bronx back in custody after being released without bail

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NEW YORK – From arrested, to released, to in custody again. 

The suspect in a brutal, unprovoked attack in the Bronx that left the victim with serious head trauma and in a medically-induced coma is back in custody after having been released without bail

Bui Van Phu, 55, was originally facing attempted murder charges in the attack on Jesus Cortes last Friday. The shocking incident was caught on video.

Police say the video shows Phu walk up behind Cortes outside Fuego Tipico Restaurant on East 188th Street and suddenly throw a roundhouse punch the back of Cortes’ head, sending him to the ground. 

Phu was ultimately charged with assault and harassment and was released without bail before being taken back into custody without incident Friday morning. Phu, who had been on parole since 2015 after serving time for a felony sex crime, but was given supervised release in this case. 

“That was a horrific situation on all fronts,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “Our team has been in contact with the Bronx District Attorney’s office to talk about the actual charges that were filed, because under the laws that we’ve strengthened to support keeping people off the street who are dangerous are being supported. But I took action in my own hands. I directed the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to immediately examine whether or not this parole violation occurred – yes it did, you could see it occurred – this is a person on lifetime parole. And as of minutes ago, that person is now in custody. That is at my direction.” 

“The people of New York need to know that as their governor I will stand up and protect them. And I am also asking our District Attorneys and our judges, once again, to closely examine that were changed and in effect as of May 9,” Hochul added. “To make sure that offenses that had been taken out of previous laws – hate crimes, repeat offenders, violent criminals, as well as gun cases – are now covered under the bail laws. They are bail eligible. The judges have wide discretion to set bail or to hold someone. And I am putting an emphasis on hold someone. That has to happen.” 

In a statement, the Bronx District Attorney’s office said “The office is obtaining additional evidence, reviewing video, speaking to witnesses, analyzing medical records, and providing crime victim services. The defendant is currently charged with third-degree Assault and second-degree Harassment, which are not bail eligible under our current laws. As the investigation continues, it will be determined if elevated charges will be brought against the defendant.”

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said Phu was ordered to report to his parole officer Friday morning “after a thorough investigation” and “taken into custody on a non-technical DOCCS warrant without incident” and is being held. 

He will appear before a Bronx judge within 24 hours. 

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