During the week of fall finals, a four-day incident that began with multiple racial slurs ended with a scratched bumper and five criminal charges against two Los Angeles men.
The Isla Vista Foot Patrol has requested that the District Attorney’s office charge one of the Los Angeles men with assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving. It also asked that the other Los Angeles man be charged with discrimination — violation of a person’s civil rights, disturbing the peace, and throwing an object at a vehicle. The descriptions of events in this story are as they were told to the IVFP by the parties involved. The IVFP has requested that the names of the subjects involved not be used because as of yet no suspects have been arrested.
On Dec. 9, 2002 at about 11:50 p.m., an African-American UCSB student was studying for finals in his Francisco Torres apartment when he heard a vehicle revving its motor in the rear parking lot just below his window. He looked out his window and saw the noise coming from a white Cadillac Escalade. He went downstairs to ask the driver of the car to keep the noise level down because people were trying to study for finals.
According to the IVFP police report, the African-American man said he asked two white male suspects in the Escalade to quiet down and, although the driver of the car appeared to be agitated by the request, he agreed. He also said that he and the two white males exchanged some words that almost led to a fight. Shortly after he returned to his apartment, he heard one of the suspects yelling, “Fuck niggers” and “WP,” which he later told IVFP officers stands for “white power.” He looked out his apartment window and saw the driver of the Escalade shouting the racial epithets.
According to the statement given to IVFP officers by the driver of the vehicle, who is an unemployed La Mirada resident visiting a friend at FT, he asked the African-American man, “Who the fuck are you?” when he approached the Escalade. The FT resident then said, “What the fuck is your problem, white trash piece of shit?” The driver said, “What the fuck is your problem, nigger?” When the African-American said, “What are you going to do, jump a nigger like that?” the driver said, “Fuck you, nigger.”
The African-American man did not attempt to contact the driver again. IVFP officers arrived on the scene moments later, however the Escalade was no longer there. The African- American man said he did not call the IVFP and does not know who did.
The next evening at about 6:30 p.m., according to the African-American man’s statement, he was parking his bicycle in the FT bike racks when he saw a tall, skinny white male suspect with a tattoo of a skull on his arm exit the white Escalade carrying a pizza. The African-American man approached him and asked him who owned the vehicle. The man, also an unemployed resident from La Mirada, said the vehicle belonged to his friend who lived at FT. When he then asked the tall skinny man who was driving the vehicle the night before, he said his other friend borrowed the Escalade. He then proceeded to go into FT with the pizza.
The African-American man said in his statement that he was standing near the Escalade when a crowd of people approached, including the FT resident who owned the vehicle, his friend who allegedly yelled the racial slurs the night before, and the tall skinny man. As the suspect who had yelled the racial slurs challenged the African-American man to fight, the African-American man noticed the tall skinny suspect push a female FT staff member. The African-American male grabbed the tall skinny suspect and told him to leave the woman alone. The IVFP then arrived before a fight could commence. The Escalade owner was kicked out of FT due to the disturbances he and his friends had caused.
According to the report given by the owner of the Escalade, on the morning of Dec. 12, he went to I.V. Theater to take a final. The man stood to go to the restroom when the African-American and two other men followed him into the restroom. As an “Asian-looking” man stood near the door, the African-American man and his other friend confronted the Escalade owner. The African-American man allegedly pushed him against the restroom stall and said, “Give me a reason I should not kick your ass.” The Escalade owner said he was not the one who had yelled the racial remarks at FT. The African-American man then let him go. The Escalade owner did not wish to press assault charges against the African-American man.
According to the report given by the “Asian-looking” man, after he was done with his final at I.V. Theater, he and three friends got into his BMW and headed back towards FT. As they were going westbound on El Colegio Road, they watched as the Escalade suddenly veered northbound, across the dirt median on El Colegio Road and steered directly toward their BMW. The BMW driver swerved to avoid colliding with the Escalade. The driver then slowed down to make a right-hand turn onto Storke Road. Just before the stoplight, the Escalade rammed into the back of the BMW, causing the passengers to abruptly jerk forward.
The Escalade continued to follow the BMW, so the BMW driver made a quick turn into the FT parking lot. As he did, a passenger in the Escalade threw a U-Lock at the car, which hit a window but did not cause any damage. The IVFP was called to survey the damaged rear bumper and take the report. The Escalade did not follow the BMW into the FT parking lot, however FT staff members told the California Highway Patrol who the owner of the vehicle was.
Hours after the incident, the Escalade owner called the IVFP station and admitted it was his vehicle that hit the BMW and said he wanted to come in and give his statement. The tall skinny man admitted to have been driving the Escalade when the accident took place, however he said that he did not intentionally hit the BMW, but could not stop the vehicle because it was going too fast. He also said that he and the suspect who yelled the racial slurs parked in the I.V. Elementary School parking lot and waited for who they thought was the African-American man because he threatened their friend. They did not know that the African-American was not in the BMW.
The IVFP asked the DA’s office to charge the tall skinny suspect with assault with a deadly weapon because he hit the BMW and with reckless driving for crossing the dirt median on El Colegio Road. The other Los Angeles resident who yelled the racial slurs may be charged with discrimination — violation of a person’s civil rights, disturbing the peace, and throwing an object at a vehicle, after it was established he was the one who threw the U-Lock.
Officer H. Williams took the report and said that the IVFP office is asking the DA to consider this a hate crime.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “The African-American guy pissed [the suspect who yelled the racial slurs] off somehow to the point where he just lost it. His hatred of African-Americans really came through when I was talking to him.”
Williams also said he thought the suspect who yelled the racial slurs was the ringleader in all of the events.
The FT staff was not available for comment.