Inmate Brutally Punches Asian American Custody Assistant, Could Face Hate Crime Charges


An inmate in Los Angeles could face assault and hate crime charges after attacking an Asian American custody assistant last week.

The incident, which was caught on a security camera, occurred at the Inmate Reception Center (IRC) on May 5 at around 10:45 a.m.

What happened: Investigators say detainee Arnulfo Meza, 29, attacked the female employee, 54, because she is Asian, KABC reported.

  • Meza’s left hand was unsecured from his waist chain after he asked to use the restroom.
  • In a video of the incident, the custody assistant is seen handing Meza toilet paper before he punches her three times. The woman falls to the floor, and Meza punches her two more times.
  • Meza then returns to his gurney while the custody assistant gets back on her feet and calls for help.
  • The video ends with other deputies restraining Meza, who was transported to a high-security area of the jail after the attack.

The aftermath: Meza is expected to face assault and hate crime charges for his actions, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

  • Jail records show he was being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of a $105,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles Times. The reason behind his incarceration is unclear.
  • The custody assistant, who is in stable condition, was taken to a hospital after sustaining injuries to her head and face.
  • “[The deputies’] commitment to duty and willingness to make sacrifices, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Department,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva shared on Twitter.
The custody assistant (circled) directs other deputies to Meza after the attack. Image Screenshot via Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
  • This attack comes as violence against Asian Americans continues to rise. Last week, the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate said it received 6,603 anti-Asian incident reports from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021, and 2,808 of these reports were submitted in March 2021 alone.
  • In Los Angeles, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 80% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. Of the most populous U.S. cities, New York saw the greatest increase at 223%.

Feature Images via Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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