VAN NUYS (CNS) – Arraignment for a Sylmar man accused of rear-ending a Filipino family at a North Hollywood drive-thru — then uttering racial slurs and physically assaulting the victims — was postponed Thursday.
Nicholas Weber, 31, was set to be arraigned in a Van Nuys courtroom on one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury and a misdemeanor count of battery. Both charges include a hate-crime allegation, according to the criminal complaint.
It was unclear why the arraignment hearing was delayed Thursday, but he apparently was not brought to the courthouse from jail. He was taken into custody this week after skipping an earlier court hearing, which prompted a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
The charges stem from a May 13 confrontation in the drive-thru line of a McDonald’s restaurant, where Weber allegedly rear-ended a car occupied by Nerissa Roque, 47, and Patricia Roque, 19. In a confrontation largely caught on cell phone video, the driver — uttering anti-Asian slurs — got out of his vehicle and approached the women, threatening to “kill” them, according to the family.
The women called police, and while waiting for them to arrive, Nerissa Roque’s husband, Gabriel Roque, arrived at the scene. Weber then allegedly attacked Nerissa and Gabriel in a physical altercation that left the 62-year- old man with injuries including a broken rib, according to the family. That confrontation was also caught on cell phone video.
Weber was not jailed after the confrontation, but he was later charged and scheduled to be arraigned June 8. He failed to appear, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The family and leaders of various Filipino immigrant-support groups rallied outside the District Attorney’s Office location in Van Nuys earlier this month, pushing for a full prosecution of Weber.
“This was the most traumatic experience of our lives. I feared that the suspect would kill us because of what we looked like — because we are Asian,” Patricia Roque said in a statement. “We are demanding a full investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and demand that this case be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
In a statement Wednesday, the District Attorney’s Office said Weber was arrested for an unrelated matter in Orange County and held on the warrant.
“The unprovoked assault on members of our community is wrong and will not be tolerated,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “Our message against violence and racial hatred must be loud and clear. We will hold accountable the people who commit hate crimes in Los Angeles County.”