NEW YORK – A Wake Forest University assistant men’s basketball coach has been placed on leave after police say he was involved in a deadly assault in New York City.
Jamill Jones, 35, of Kernersville, was charged with assault after turning himself in to police on Thursday, officials said.
Jones allegedly punched 35-year-old Sandor Szabo, of Boca Raton, Florida, in the face on Sunday, knocking him to the pavement, after Szabo knocked on the window of Jones’ SUV.
The New York Post reports that Szabo's family said he was in town for his stepsister's wedding when he left his brother's LIC hotel shortly after 1 a.m. to find a cab he'd ordered.
“He was at probably the best point in his life that he could be and he was so happy,” Donna Kent, Szabo’s mother, told FOX News.
After banging on multiple cars in front of 41-10 29th St., a nearby person heard the commotion and went to confront Szabo, sources said.
Szabo then punched the person in the face, the New York Post reports. That's when Jones approached Szabo and punched him.
A witness told WPIX Szabo appeared to be choking on his own blood.
“The surgeon said 99.9 percent sure he would never come back to us, the detective told us right when they say Sandor they knew it and they treated it as a homicide immediately,” Kent said.
Police deemed the incident a homicide on Friday, WPIX reported. Jones pleaded not guilty on Thursday after finding out that police were searching for him on social media, according to his lawyer, Alain Massena.
“He contacted me, we reached out to the detective, and we arranged for a surrender for Thursday morning, well before knowing of the person’s passing,” Massena told FOX8.
The driver fled the scene and Szabo -- unconscious -- was rushed to the hospital in critical condition early Sunday, officials said. He died Tuesday.
“There’s a family that’s lost a son, it’s a tragic accident, and he just wants an opportunity to have some measure of privacy as he and his family litigate this matter in the court, and pray and hope for a just result,” Massena said.
FOX8 asked Massena if Jones felt he was protecting himself or someone else when he threw the punch.
“The things that you pointed out are things that I believe are very salient to this case. I believe that they’re very salient as to why the district attorney chose to charge the appropriate charge in our opinion,” Massena responded.
“This is not assault. We were so shocked when they said it was an assault charge,” Kent said. “When we went to see Sandor, and saw what had happened to his face, this wasn’t just a punch. This was a punch so hard that resulted in my son’s teeth going through his lip.”
Wake Forest University released the following statement on Friday afternoon:
Wake Forest Athletics Director Ron Wellman has placed assistant men’s basketball coach Jamill Jones on leave.
Wellman spoke with Jones today and he agreed that the decision is appropriate at this time given the circumstances.
Wake Forest University expresses heartfelt condolences to Sandor Szabo’s family and friends following his tragic death.
"I know God needed another angel,” Kent said. “I was just thankful that angel was given to me for such a short time because he was really special.”