Dmitriy Popov, the 17-year-old charged with the stabbing death of a gay, Black man, O’Shae Sibley, has pleaded not guilty to murder as a hate crime. He entered the plea in Brooklyn’s State Supreme Court on Friday, according to The New York Times. Popov will be tried as an adult and faces up to 25 years to life in prison for the murder charge, with the hate crime component increasing the minimum sentencing from 15 years to 20.

Justice Craig S. Walker ordered Popov to remain in custody without bail at a juvenile detention center. Popov’s next court date is Oct. 10. His lawyer, Mark Pollard, suggested he might argue self-defense at trial.

On July 29, Sibley, a professional dancer, and his friends were driving home from the beach when they pulled into a Brooklyn gas station and began dancing to a Beyoncé song. Another group of young men approached them and shouted at them to stop dancing, using homophobic and racist slurs. Prosecutors say a witness saw Popov stab Sibley, who was 28. Popov turned himself into police on Aug. 4. Popov’s lawyer said surveillance video shows the defendant backing away from Sibley and his friends.

One of Sibley’s friends characterized what happened in a social media post, saying Sibley was attempting to diffuse tension after one of the people taunting his group allegedly proclaimed, “We [are] Muslims and do not like gays.” Sibley, according to his friend, told them: “We may be gay but we exist, we’re not going to live in fear. We’re not going to live in hiding.” After that, the men allegedly engaged in an altercation, and Sibley was stabbed in the chest.

According to the Times, Sibley had grown up in Philadelphia and moved to New York to pursue dance. He had been preparing to audition for the cast of The Lion King.


“This is a city where you are free to express yourself, and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said subsequently at a press conference held at the gas station where the alleged incident occurred.

After Sibley’s death, Beyoncé paid tribute by publishing the words “Rest in Power, O’Shae Sibley” on her website.