Tag Archive for: Hate Crime

Photo of a gavel with a knife and handcuffs.

Hate Crime Defendant Sentenced for Attack on Black Victim  

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a 52-year-old hate crime defendant was sentenced to nine years in prison for his violent attack on a Black victim while the two were in a homeless shelter in Carlsbad.

Defendant Jeremy Willis, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and admitted that he inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim and committed a hate crime, repeatedly stabbed Cassius Hope at the La Posada de Guadalupe shelter in December 2023. When a Good Samaritan witness attempted to alert shelter staff, co-Defendant Scott Williams prevented the Good Samaritan from getting help.

“Cassius Hope was victimized in this brutal hate crimes case just because he was Black,” DA Stephan said. “Unfortunately hate crimes targeting Black people remains the highest category of hate crimes in our county and state. Our lead hate crimes prosecutor Abigail Dillon along with a victim advocate, investigator, paralegal, fought for and supported Mr. Hope throughout the process and were able to achieve justice on his behalf.”

The defendant, who is white, repeatedly called Hope the n-word and made other derogatory comments about Hope’s race while stabbing him at the homeless shelter. As we do with all victims of crime, our office will continue to offer services and support to the victim to assist him in moving past this horrible incident.

Co-Defendant Scott Williams, who pleaded guilty to attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting, was sentenced last week to 16 months in prison.

“Hate against one group is a threat to everyone and we won’t tolerate these crimes in our community,” DA Stephan said. “Anyone considering committing a hate crime should think again as they will be investigated, prosecuted and held accountable under the law.”

Grand Jury Indicts 17 Hells Angels Defendants for Violent Attack

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that 17 defendants have been indicted by a grand jury for their roles in an attack on three men in Ocean Beach this past summer. On June 6, 2023, a group of outlaw Hells Angels motorcycle gang members and their supporters viciously attacked the young men on a public sidewalk.


The victims, all African American men ages 19, 20 and 21, were on Newport Avenue enjoying a night out. Virtually out of nowhere— possibly because one of the men spoke to a biker’s girlfriend— they were chased and attacked by several Hells Angels and Hells Angels supporters. They were repeatedly called a racial epithet and told they didn’t belong in the neighborhood.

One victim ran and escaped injury. Another victim was punched and kicked all over his body. The beating only stopped after he was sucker punched in the head and knocked unconscious. The third man was also beaten by multiple bikers and left helpless, curled up on the ground. Longtime Hells Angels leader, Troy Scholder, pulled out a knife, rolled the victim onto his side, and stabbed him in the chest, cracking the young man’s sternum. After trying to kill the victim, Mr. Scholder casually folded up his knife and walked away. The young man survived his injuries.

“In San Diego County, we cannot, and will not tolerate violence and racism of any nature, much less crimes like this hateful, vicious, and unprovoked attack,” said DA Stephan. “It is a testament to the cooperation and coordination of our law enforcement partners, working closely with our Gangs Division, that these defendants were identified and are being brought to face justice.”

The crime kicked off a large-scale investigation by the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Gang Unit. Deputy District Attorney Miriam Hemming and District Attorney Investigators Ross Umstot and Bryan Maddox worked relentlessly with SDPD to identify all the attackers and convene a grand jury. On September 13, after hearing six days of testimony, the grand jury returned indictments against 14 defendants for assault likely to cause great bodily injury— all with a gang allegation and 11 of them with a hate crime allegation. The grand jury added three additional defendants because the trio helped drive the stabber from the scene and back to the Hells Angels Clubhouse in El Cajon.

“These disgusting hate-driven attacks have no place in our community. There is no stronger way to condemn this violence than to hold the perpetrators accountable to the fullest force of the law,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “We committed every necessary resource to track down and arrest each person who was involved in these wanton acts of violence. I want to thank our detectives who solved this case, our partner law enforcement agencies for their help, and the District Attorney’s Office for their tireless work.”

All 17 defendants were arrested on September 21. Law enforcement seized 42 illegal firearms, as well as illegal drugs. Arraignments occurred today for the defendants. If convicted of all charges, the defendants face a range of possible sentences from three years to life in prison. A readiness hearing is set for November 3 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1102 of the Superior Court downtown. Trial is currently set for November 14 in Department 102.

Several agencies worked together on the investigation and subsequent arrests, including the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, El Cajon Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, La Mesa Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, National City Police Department and the Narcotics Task Force. The DA’s Office also received assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Hells Angles are an international outlaw motorcycle gang with chapters across California and an active chapter in San Diego County. They gain strength in numbers by developing support or puppet clubs, including at least five in San Diego. The Hells Angels profit by trafficking in guns and drugs, as evidenced by search warrants executed last Thursday netting 35 firearms. In addition to running guns and drugs, the Hells Angels have been well-known to have a virulent streak of racism, demonstrated by their pervasive use of Nazi symbols and images.

In a separate case, the District Attorney’s Gangs Unit is also prosecuting a recent Hells Angels President for another unprovoked attack on a former Hells Angels associate at a crowded IHOP restaurant in Clairemont. That attack left the victim with broken bones in his face.


DA Charges Juvenile Stabber with Hate Crime

Noting a rise in hate crime prosecutions and declaring that such crimes won’t be tolerated, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan today announced her office is charging the 16-year old who stabbed another teenager in the back with one count of attempt murder, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. Both counts carry hate crime special allegations, as well as personal use of a deadly weapon and personal infliction of great bodily injuries special allegations. Accountability in juvenile court is focused on rehabilitation and is handled differently than in adult court, and includes a range of sentencing options that the court can consider.

In court today, prosecutors put no facts on the record in court today. Juvenile proceedings are confidential, and the DA is limited on what information can be released publicly. The investigation into the incident and the potential criminal acts by other individuals involved is ongoing and additional charges could be filed in the pending criminal case. DA Victim Advocates are working to support the victim’s family and ensure their safety in the aftermath of the stabbing and initial stages of the criminal prosecution.

“Multiple aspects of this incident are appalling and as our investigation moves forward, we will be sure to hold everyone accountable for whom the evidence shows committed a crime,” said DA Stephan. “We’ve seen a disturbing increase in hate crimes, with the highest number being committed against persons who are Black. Anyone who commits these crimes will be held accountable under the law and I join the community in their outrage regarding such incidents. Our office is dedicated to not only prosecuting hate crimes and holding perpetrators accountable under the law. We also educate the public on what constitutes such a crime and how to prevent them while also delivering the message that they won’t be tolerated.”

Prosecuting hate crimes is a priority for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The DA has nearly tripled the number of hate crime cases it has prosecuted in recent years, filing 21 cases in 2020 and 30 such cases in 2021.

In 2020, in response to reports of hate-related incidents aimed at the Asian community across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the District Attorney’s Office announced a new online form and hotline where the public can report suspected hate incidents and hate crimes they’ve been a victim or witness to in San Diego County. The online reporting form can be found on the District Attorney’s website here. The Hate Crimes Hotline number is 619-515-8805. Individuals submitting information about a suspected hate crime will be contacted with information about the DA’s review of the report and any action that may be taken.

The public is reminded that hate speech in and of itself often does not rise to the level of a hate crime but is relevant as it could escalate to criminal behavior Hate crimes are often preceded by hate speech. By law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by prejudice against that person’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Today, the court set a readiness hearing in the case for June 6 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 6 of the Juvenile Court.