An American, who assaulted an Indian-origin man and hurled racial slurs on November 22nd last year, has been charged with hate crime.
54-year-old Jeffery Allen Burgess, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, has been accused of intentionally harming Ankur Mehta of Indian-origin because of his “perceived race, color and national origin.”
A federal grand jury yesterday charged Burgess in connection with the alleged assault at a Red Robin restaurant in South Hills Village, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Tom Wheeler, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and acting United States Attorney Soo C Song for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced the indictment.
“Burgess was sitting next to Mehta inside the restaurant, when he began insulting him and repeatedly elbowed him in the head,” police said.
"I don't want you sitting next to me...you people," Burgess was quoted as saying by witnesses in addition to his anti-Muslim racial slurs, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bethel Park police.
According to witnesses Burgess struck Mehta four or five times and abused him.
Mehta was treated at St Clair Hospital for a laceration to the upper lip and a loose tooth.
Burgess told Mehta "things are different now," police said, which authorities believe was a reference to the election of Donald Trump.
If Burgess is convicted of hate crime he can face a maximum sentence of 10 years of prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
He was also charged of ethnic intimidation, public drunkenness and simple assault stemming from the same incident.
The indictment of Burgess comes amid a series of suspected hate crime cases targeting Indian community in the United States.
February 22: Indian nationals Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot at a bar in Kansas, by a navy veteran, who shouted "get out of my country" before opening fire. Srinivas, 32, later died at a hospital.
On March 3: an Indian-origin Sikh was shot and injured in Kent, by a gunman who reportedly told him to "go back to your own country.