A Sylmar man accused of rear-ending a Filipino family at a North Hollywood drive-thru and then uttering racial slurs and physically assaulting the victims pleaded not guilty on Monday to two battery charges.
Nicholas Weber, 31, is charged with one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury and a misdemeanor count of battery, along with a hate-crime allegation.
The charges stem from a May 13 confrontation in the drive-thru line of a McDonald's restaurant, where Weber allegedly rear-ended a car occupied by Nerissa Roque, 47, and Patricia Roque, 19. In a confrontation largely caught on cell phone video, the driver -- uttering anti-Asian slurs -- got out of his vehicle and approached the women, threatening to ``kill'' them, according to the family.
The women called police, and while waiting for them to arrive, Nerissa Roque's husband, Gabriel Roque, arrived at the scene. Weber then allegedly attacked Nerissa and Gabriel in a physical altercation that left the 62-year-old man with injuries including a broken rib, according to the family. That confrontation was also caught on cell phone video.
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Weber was not jailed after the confrontation, but he was later charged and scheduled to be arraigned June 8. He failed to appear in court, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
He was subsequently arrested for an unrelated matter in Orange County and held on the warrant, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The family and leaders of various Filipino immigrant-support groups rallied outside the District Attorney's Office in Van Nuys demanding a full prosecution in the case.
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“This was the most traumatic experience of our lives. I feared that the suspect would kill us because of what we looked like -- because we are Asian,'' Patricia Roque said in a statement. ``We are demanding a full investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and demand that this case be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.''
In a statement announcing Weber's June 21 arrest, District Attorney George Gascón said, ``The unprovoked assault on members of our community is wrong and will not be tolerated. Our message against violence and racial hatred must be loud and clear. We will hold accountable the people who commit hate crimes in Los Angeles County.''
Weber has remained behind bars since being taken into custody, according to jail records.
He is due back in court Aug. 19, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case to proceed to trial.