Supporters of the Roque family outside the District Attorney’s Office in Van Nuys on June 17. (Filipino Migrant Center)

Rafu Staff Report

VAN NUYS — A Sylmar man accused of assaulting a Filipino American family in North Hollywood entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment in a Van Nuys courtroom on July 11.

A preliminary hearing for Nicholas Weber, 31, is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 8:30 a.m. Bail was set at $150,000, with the court adding $1,000 each for three other possible probation violation cases for a total of $153,000.

On May 13, Weber allegedly rear-ended a car occupied by Nerissa Roque, 47, and Patricia Roque, 19, in the drive-through line of a McDonald’s restaurant. In a confrontation captured on video, Weber used anti-Asian slurs and threatened the two women.

While the women were waiting for the police, Nerissa Roque’s husband, Gabriel, 62, arrived on the scene. Weber then allegedly attacked Nerissa and Gabriel, leaving the husband with injuries including a broken rib, according to the family.

Weber was not jailed after the incident and was scheduled to be arraigned on June 8. When he failed to show up, a judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Weber is charged with one count of felony battery on Gabriel and one count of misdemeanor battery on Nerissa. According to their attorney, Sandy Roxas, the Roque family asked Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim to amend the latter charge to felony battery.

Filipino American leaders and organizations are supporting the family’s calls for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Cerritos City Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama issued the following statement on June 28:

“I am outraged and deeply saddened that the Roque family, a Filipino family, were the victims of an anti-Asian hate crime and felony battery by a white male who attacked them at a restaurant drive-through line in North Hollywood.

“Sadly, this attack was yet another all-too-common hate crime against Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The prevalence of hateful and racist attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders threatens safety in our City of Cerritos. 61.8 percent of the city’s residents are of Asian Pacific Islander descent, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

“I denounce the rise in racist acts that strike fear into the hearts of our own communities, as well as the evil forces which have facilitated that rise. I urge my fellow leaders to stand together against anti-AAPI hate crimes.

“I strongly urge the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office to fully and completely investigate and prosecute this hate crime against the Roque family, and to work with the AAPI community to stop anti-AAPI hate and attacks.”

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