Brooklyn: An accused killer and reputed gang member is free on the streets of New York City, less than a week after allegedly beating Jose Zambrano so badly he would die in the hospital. The alleged attacker is still only charged with a misdemeanor in the case.
“I am Jose Zambrano from Venezuela.”
The 26-year-old was just starting to make a name for himself in the world of video game development.
“This creativity just bursting out of him and he had such an infectious personality. So it’s no surprise he quickly went from being a member of our community to a leader of our community,” colleague Dan Butchko said.
Zambrano had even started his own business, using video games as a way to bring to people together.
“Being in New York you get people from all over the place… games in this case, I want to show that they can transcend language,” the late Zambrano said in a video.
His passion would end all too soon.
Police say Zambrano was beaten unconscious near Grand and Havemeyer Streets in Williamsburg on Nov. 17 after leaving a neighborhood bar.
Witnesses say this man, 25-year-old Joshua Hernandez, approached him for a cigarette but when Zambrano refused he was attacked, beaten senseless, and left unconscious on the ground.
Hernandez was arrested and charged with 2nd degree assault, but four days later, Zambrano died of his injuries.
Despite that, Hernandez was released, free on $10,000 bond, and his charges were never upgraded beyond the initial misdemeanor assault.
“It’s obviously outrageous and it’s so senseless,” Dan Butchko said.
Police sources say Hernandez is a known member of the Latin Kings gang. His criminal history includes several sealed arrests.
Those CBS2 has discovered include an assault on a police officer in 2015 and an assault on a 15-year-old girl with hammer in 2014.
The Brooklyn District Attorney wouldn’t release an official comment on the ongoing case, but sources say it will be up to a grand jury to decide if the charges should be upgraded to include homicide.
CBS2 was not able to speak to Hernandez at his home.
Meanwhile, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate Zambrano’s life and the legacy he leaves behind.
“Obviously we’re all so angry and frustrated and upset with how he passed but it’s on us to make sure that his memory lives on, not in the way he passed but in the way he lived,” Butchko told CBS2’s Valerie Castro.
The city medical examiner’s office has not released an official cause of death in this case yet. As for Hernandez, he is due back in court later this month.