Americas Community Stop Asian Hate

Dismay, anxiety and frustration build up on still pretrial stage of Roque case

By Jun Nucum
LOS ANGELES – More than one year after experiencing an anti-Asian hate crime, the Roque family is still at a pretrial stage after an ‘uneventful’ hearing last week and the family is in a quandary whether their case will proceed to a full-blown trial with no hate crime enhancement.

As a result, along with supporters, the Roque family had feelings of dismay, anxiety, frustration and, at times, even anger together with their backers that have always been there for support.

In an exclusive interview with Roque son Patrick, feelings of dismay, frustration and anger at the slow pace their case is going on with not much development happening was expressed.

“The slow pace only made us feel worse with how the court has handled our case. Considering that what they are asked to do are basic duties and it was obvious there was a crime committed, the latest hearing seem to imply that we, instead of the accused, have the burden of proof even with the amount and strength of evidence at hand,” Patrick shared.

Patrick also revealed that Judge Neetu Badhan-Smith, who first handled the case that found probable cause for two felony assaults committed by attacker Nicolas Weber has been replaced.
 Included in what the former judge found probable cause for felony that caused great bodily injury after reviewing evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense although the hate crime enhancement on both assault charges were dropped.

Judge Badhan-Smith claimed that there was no sufficient evidence for what happened to the family to be considered a hate crime case since there was a time lapse between the alleged utterance of hateful words and the actual assault on the Roque family.

While the pretrial proceedings continue to be heard by new Judge Richard Kirschner,   Weber has not been able to file bail and continues to be in custody.

“Our struggle to find justice continues even expand on the campaign for all hate crime victims that we are pursuing. I am optimistic that even after the enhancement for hate crime has been dropped after our case has been supposedly mishandled by the District Attorney’s Office, our campaign will further be intensified,” assured Patrick. “Just the same, the anger, frustration and dismay remains that at times make us feel hopeless.”

The Roques are a working-class migrant family who have missed wages to attend more than a dozen previous court dates alongside the community, who continue to support the family due to the apparent lack of urgency with which the court is handling their case.

Supporters are demanding that Weber be held accountable and the family’s interests and well-being are prioritized through the legal proceedings.

Community members continue to hold rallies, some of which have been livestreamed, to voice their concerns regarding the slowness in justice and lack of assistance that government institutions have neglected to provide to the family and had consistently to make up for their lack of services through grassroots efforts including fundraising, in-person advocacy and support, and through community mobilization to uplift the struggles of the Roques and other migrant workers.

At the July 13 court date, the only Roque family members that were present were Patrick Roque and daughter Patricia Roque. The other Roque family members were unable to attend due to work and other commitments and this usually happens while court processes continue.

The family consistently faces the barrier of attending to court dates and meetings because they don’t have the flexibility to take time off due to the need to work.

The incident occurred at a McDonald’s in North Hollywood. Nerissa (47) and Patricia (19) Roque were waiting in the drive-through line when their vehicle was struck by another car. The driver was a white male, ~6ft tall in his 20s or 30s. He approached the Roque’s car and used anti-Asian slurs, spoke in a mocking accent and threatened them directly, saying “I’ll kill you.”

While waiting for the police to arrive on the scene, Gabriel Roque (62) came to meet his wife and daughter. Upon Gabriel Roque’s arrival, the driver physically assaulted both Gabriel and Nerissa, striking Gabriel several times and putting his hands around Nerissa’s neck. Ultimately, a bystander subdued the assailant and remained with the family until the police arrived. Gabriel Roque was taken to the hospital for medical care and sustained multiple injuries including a broken rib.