The man charged with using a hockey stick to attack a New York City Uber driver, who later died, did so as an act of self-defense, his attorney said. 


Kohji Kosugi, 39, of Manhattan, was arrested Sunday after getting into an altercation with 68-year-old Uber driver Randolph Tolk of West New York, New Jersey, late Saturday night on the West Side Highway.


Police said that Kosugi hit Tolk’s 2010 Toyota Camry with his hockey stick after the vehicle nearly struck him in a crosswalk near Chelsea Piers. The incident turned physical after Tolk exited the car, and Kosugi hit him in the head with the hockey stick and continued hitting Tolk after he fell to the ground.


Kosugi fled, and Tolk got back into his Camry and drove 10 blocks before crashing into a median. He was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m.


Kosugi’s lawyer, David Jeffries, argues that Kosugi is not responsible for Tolk’s death because the driver, who was not on the clock at the time of the incident, was able to drive after the attack.


“Mr. Kosugi is not the cause of the very unfortunate, tragic outcome,” Jeffries told CBS2. “Unfortunately, the driver played a very large and outsized role in how things got to the place they got to.”

Jeffries alleges that Tolk was the “initial aggressor” and that he was not following “the rules of the road.” His client, who he said is a doctor though he did not specify what field of medicine he practices, “reacted in what could be considered a reasonable fashion.”

Kosugi's bail was set at $500,000 cash. The city’s Medical Examiner has not yet released Tolk’s cause of death.