A Hampton Bays man who punched a taxi driver in the head -- leading to his death four days later -- will be charged only with assault after a grand jury declined to indict him for manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, prosecutors said.

Kenneth Tofty-Forrest, 28, punched cabdriver Robert Levasseur, 53, of Riverhead, once in the back of his head during an argument in a Chase Bank parking lot on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays on April 21, police said. Levasseur fell to the pavement, lapsed into a coma and died at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Tofty-Forrest told police the argument began after another driver, Faith Miller, began yelling at Levasseur for cutting her off in traffic and forcing her to leave the road to avoid a crash, police said.

During the argument, some witnesses said Levasseur shoved Miller, and she told police Levasseur punched her in the face, prosecutors said.

Tofty-Forrest, a passerby, jumped into the fray, prosecutors said, and punched Levasseur. He told police he got involved only after he saw Levasseur punch Miller.

"I had to do something, after I hit him I called police to report it," Tofty-Forrest told police, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury earlier this month, asking the panel to indict Tofty-Forrest on charges of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

After hearing testimony from witnesses, the grand jury voted last week not to indict on the more serious charges, opting instead for a charge of assault in the third degree, prosecutors said.

"Great care was taken by the prosecution to present the facts of this case in a clear and deliberate manner," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement. "This office has fulfilled its responsibility and we will abide by the grand jury's decision.

Tofty-Forrest, who is free on $500 bail, pleaded not guilty to the assault charge at his arraignment Wednesday. His next scheduled court date is Sept. 12.

His lawyer, Cornelius Rogers, said he will file a motion to have the assault charge dismissed.

Cop rescues dogs … Flags at Calverton National Cemetery … Nick Zamperion Credit: Newsday

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Cop rescues dogs … Flags at Calverton National Cemetery … Nick Zamperion Credit: Newsday

BusPatrol politics ... Memorial Day parades ... No Blue Angels on Sunday ... Service dogs in the Air Force 

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