THE suspect accused of physically assaulting and throwing racist slurs toward a Filipino American family has pleaded not guilty on Monday, July 11 to two battery charges.
Nicholas Weber, a 31-year-old Sylmar, California resident, is charged with one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury and a misdemeanor count of battery. The charges carry hate crime allegations.
This comes after a May 13 incident wherein Patricia Roque, 19, and her mom Nerissa, 47, were getting late-night snacks at the McDonald’s drive-thru on Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood when a dark blue jeep, driven by Weber, hit their car from behind.
The younger Roque got out of the car and started taking cellphone videos of the damagers. That’s when the suspect went to the side of their car and started throwing racial slurs with a mock Asian accent. The suspect threatened them by saying, “I’ll kill you,” Patricia recounted.
While waiting for the police to respond to their 911 call, Patricia called her dad, Gabriel, who arrived in time to stop Weber who was trying to enter the car to get to Patricia.
In the process of stopping the suspect from hurting his daughter who was seated in the passenger’s seat of the car, the 62-year-old father was pushed down to the pavement by the suspect. Gabriel suffered injuries, including a broken rib and bruises on his arms.
“My family and I were victims of anti-Asian hate. What initially started off as a minor traffic collision quickly escalated to verbal and physical assaults. We were taunted, ridiculed, and belittled because of our appearance as Asian Americans. Specifically, the suspect called us ‘ching chong’ and made squinting eye motions as he verbally threatened us,” Patricia Roque told the Asian Journal in a previous interview.
After attacking her father, Weber reportedly turned to her mother and strangled her.
“My mom tried to intervene to stop the attack on my dad. At that point, the suspect turned his anger and hate towards my mom and started strangling her with his bare hands. We all screamed for help. We all pleaded for the suspect to stop,” Patricia said.
She said a bystander helped stop Weber from further attacking her family.
When the police finally arrived, Weber was taken by an ambulance to the hospital and later on, was released with a citation to appear in court last June 8 but he never did.
The court issued a bench warrant for Weber after he failed to appear for arraignment on June 8. He was arrested for an unrelated matter in Orange County and held on the warrant.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, North Hollywood Division.
Weber is due back in court Aug. 19, when a date for a hearing will be scheduled to determine if the case will go to trial.
Filipino American community members are continuing to call on the District Attorney’s Office to fully prosecute the case.
The Filipino Migrant Center has created a fundraiser on its website for the Roque family’s physical and emotional recovery. n