In May 2021, Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old Nigerian living in Italy, was hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle, an accident that forced him to use a crutch to move around.
On Friday, an Italian man used the crutch to knock Mr. Ogorchukwu to the ground on a major shopping street in Civitanova Marche, a seaside town on the Adriatic Coast, before beating him to death, as a video of the assault shows and police officials confirmed. Moments earlier, Mr. Ogorchukwu, a street vendor, had unsuccessfully pitched his wares to the assailant and his girlfriend.
The brutal, senseless murder – which was videotaped by witnesses and shared thousands of times on social media – has shocked Italians, stirred political bickering ahead of national elections in September and spawned fresh debate over racism in Italy, even though, for now, investigators do not believe that the crime was racially motivated.
Mr. Ogorchukwu was killed around 2 p.m. Friday, shortly after he had approached the suspect, Filippo Ferlazzo, whose identity was confirmed by his lawyer, and his girlfriend to sell trinkets and beg for some change. After being rebuffed, Mr. Ogorchukwu walked away, followed almost immediately by the suspect, who assaulted him. Onlookers filmed the aggression, which lasted less than four minutes, but no one intervened.
Mr. Ogorchukwu had moved to Italy about a decade ago, to join his wife, Charity Oriachi. They lived in the inland town of San Severino Marche. Eight years ago, their son was born, said Francesco Mantella, a lawyer who has helped the family and is representing Ms. Oriachi.
Mr. Ferlazzo, a 32-year-old factory worker, is being held on charges of homicide and robbery because he took Mr. Ogorchukwu’s cellphone after the episode. Matteo Luconi, chief police investigator in Macerata overseeing the case, said an autopsy later this week would establish the cause of death. Nothing has emerged from investigations to suggest “elements of racial hatred,” he added. A statement issued by police said the “motive for the murder” appeared to be traceable to “petty reasons.”
In an e-mail, Mr. Ferlazzo’s lawyer, Roberta Bizzarri, said Mr. Ferlazzo had “overt psychiatric disorders, a recognized borderline diagnosis.”
Fabrizio Ciarapica, mayor of Civitanova Marche, met with Mr. Ogorchukwu’s widow Saturday, and Sunday, the municipal administration approved a motion to assist the family. Funds have been set aside to help pay for the funeral, and a bank account was opened for donations.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.