QUEENS — A mother determined to get more justice for her 35-year-old son, who died after an ex-college basketball coach knocked him to the ground with one punch, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Queens Wednesday.
The civil suit filed by attorneys for Donna Kent seeks damages from Jamil Jones and Wake Forest University, where Jones used to be employed as an assistant basketball coach.
Jones was convicted this year by a Queens jury of third degree assault, after tearfully testifying in his own defense; a Queens judge sentenced him to probation, 1,500 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine on July 23.
The former basketball coach claimed Kent’s son, Sandor Szabo, aggressively approached his BMW in Long Island City in the early hours of August 5, 2018 and smashed a rear window, frustrated that he couldn’t find his Lyft ride after a family wedding.
Surveillance video did not show any evidence that the window was smashed, because the tail lights of the white BMW Jones was driving obscured what happened when Szabo went over to the vehicle.
Szabo had been seen on security footage trying to flag down Jones’ car, which belonged to Jones’ then-fiancée, on 29th Street in Queens.
Szabo’s family acknowledged the digital marketing executive was intoxicated after the wedding and upset about not finding his cab.
The lawsuit references what happened in the seconds after Szabo walked away from the BMW, where Jones’ girlfriend was sitting in the front, passenger seat.
“While Mr. Szabo walked away, Coach Jones exited his vehicle and sprinted to catch up with him,” the lawsuit said. “As Coach Jones closed in, Mr. Szabo (5’10”) sought refuge from the imposing Coach Jones (6’5”) behind a mailbox and put his hands up to shield his face in a moment of terror.”
The suit continues, “Without warning or provocation, Coach Jones (220 lbs) planted his feet, cocked back his right fist and struck Mr. Szabo (183 lbs) In the face with full force. The punch was so forceful that it knocked Mr. Szabo’s teeth through his lower lip.”
“Mr. Szabo’s body slammed into the ground following the punch and his head bounced against the concrete curb. The impact fractured Mr. Szabo’s skull in two places and resulted in extensive brain damage. According to witnesses and security camera footage, as Mr. Szabo lay unconscious on the sidewalk, his legs twitched and blood poured from his ears, face and mouth, choking his airway.”
“Meanwhile, Coach Jones looked down at Mr. Szabo and casually walked back towards his vehicle...”
Jones returned to North Carolina the next morning, after consulting a police officer friend, and attended a Wake Forest banquet.
Szabo was pronounced brain dead on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.
After the surveillance footage was released by the NYPD, Jones turned himself in to Queens detectives with his lawyer on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. This was about the same time that Szabo’s heart, kidneys, and other organs were being harvested for transplantation.
Jones eventually lost his job at Wake Forest University.