Filipino family in LA is latest victim of hate crime
By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent
A Filipino family that was queueing in a drive through of a well-known fastfood restaurant found themselves the victim of a verbal and physical assault last year. They filed a case against their assailant, only to discover that they would again be subjected to further verbal insults coming from the lawyer of the man they sued.
The second rash of insults happened last week at the preliminary hearings to decide if the Roque family’s case against their assailant would proceed to trial.
They were not expecting what they called the “hurtful and insulting” questioning thrown their way by the defense lawyer, who insinuated that the Roques had ill intentions in raising awareness of anti-Asian hate.
The incident had all the hallmarks of a hate crime.
On May 13, 2022, a Jeep driven by Nicholas Weber rear-ended the car of Nerissa Roque, 47, while she and her daughter Patricia, 19, were in line at the McDonald’s outlet on Victory Boulevard, North Hollywood.
The case became known back in the Philippines as it was covered by the US operations of the country’s biggest newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Instead of apologizing, Weber reportedly hurled anti-Asian insults at the mother and daughter, and a video of the incident showed the assailant seemingly grabbing Nerissa by the neck.
When Gabriel Roque, 62, tried to intervene, Weber punched him, causing the senior citizen to fall to the ground, suffering bruises and broken ribs in the process.
Patricia had the presence of mind to take a video of the assault with her cellphone, and she was also able to get the license plate number of Weber’s Jeep.
As if the assault was not bad enough, the LAPD took more than an hour to arrive at the scene, then added insult to injury by advising the Roques not to file charges against Weber.
Further, at the preliminary hearing, Weber’s lawyer subjected the Roque family to demeaning and degrading questions after the Roques insisted on pursuing two counts of felony battery against Weber. The fierce questioning of the assailant’s lawyer may be due to the fact that Weber was also charged with a hate crime, a more serious offense that could land him in prison for several years if found guilty.
The court is expected to decide this week if the case will proceed to trial.
In the meantime, the Roque family can take heart at the support they have received from the Fil-Am community, including such organizations as the Filipino Migrant Center, the Progressive Asian Network, and about a hundred kababayans who rallied outside the LA Superior Court.
Patricia, a University of California Irvine student, related their tale to Inquirer.net, which printed their telling of the events which the family says traumatized them.
She could not hide her disappointment at the LAPD. Patricia also said they would pursue the case to the very end, even if it takes a year or more, to make sure that Nicholas Weber receives what is due him.