A teenage player lies on the floor after being sucker-punched by the opposing player standing at left during a youth basketball game in Garden Grove on Nov. 7, 2021.

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

SANTA ANA – A mother must write a written apology and pay more than $9,000 in restitution to a teenage girl who was punched in the neck by the woman’s daughter after she yelled at her daughter from the stands to hit the girl.

The rival player collapsed on the court following an unprovoked attack that was captured on video.

Latira (Tira) Shonty Hunt, 44, of La Puente was charged in December 2021 with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of battery. She faced a maximum sentence of one year in Orange County Jail if convicted on all counts.

On Nov. 7, 2021, Hunt was in the stands at the MAPS sports facility in Garden Grove watching her teenage daughter compete in a youth basketball game. Hunt yelled, “You better hit her for that” to her daughter after she had interaction with a rival player on the court. Seconds later, the rival player fell to the court after an unprovoked attack.

Alice Ham, the mother of the 15-year-old girl who was struck, told reporters that her daughter suffered a concussion from the blow. She posted a video of the incident that has gone viral.

The father of the girl who threw the punch, former NBA player Corey Benjamin, issued a statement on social media shortly after the game apologizing for his daughter’s actions.

Per Welfare and Institutions Code Section 828, the District Attorney’s Office is prohibited from discussing anything related to juvenile investigations.

On Sept. 14, an Orange County Superior Court judge granted Hunt misdemeanor diversion in exchange for completing a series of requirements over the next two years, including writing an apology to the victim, her parents and both basketball club teams; paying more than $9,000 in restitution; and completing anger management classes before she can attend basketball games again. She was also ordered to stay away from the victim.

Recent changes in California law make nearly all misdemeanors eligible for court-ordered diversion and reduced the probationary period for misdemeanors to one year. This settlement doubles the length of potential court oversight to two years based on the provision of the new diversion laws.

“Parents have a fundamental responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings who treat everyone with dignity and respect,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Youth sports play a crucial role in developing discipline, teamwork and fair play. A grown adult directing a child to use violence against another child on the basketball court is reprehensible. By instructing her own daughter to engage in violence, she is not only responsible for injuring an innocent child as if she punched her with her own fist, but she transformed her own child into someone who is willing to hurt another child.”

Senior Assistant District Attorney Suzie Price prosecuted this case.

Hunt’s attorney, Brett Greenfield, said in a statement that Hunt and her daughter “from the inception of this incident took accountability for their actions and did everything in their power to rectify this situation.”

Greenfield said compliance with the judge’s conditions will lead to an “outright dismissal of the entire criminal action. This is the appropriate and just result.”

The defense attorney added, “Unfortunately, this incident opened the social media door for many individuals to make direct statements to Ms. Hunt and her minor daughters. These statements were infected with racism, bigotry, threats, humiliation, bullying and more. The harm created will last a lifetime … Defendant was forced to pull her juvenile daughter out of school for months, and only now is her life starting to become normal again.”

Although the case was not treated as a hate crime, some Asian Americans on social media have suggested that anti-Asian bias may have been a factor.

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