Ashli Babbitt’s brother faces hate crime charges in San Diego
A man face assault and battery charges and hate crimes after being accused of attacking and hurling racial slurs at a utility worker in San Diego last year is the brother of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer while trying to enter a hallway outside the chamber of the House on January 6. 2021, United States Capitol riot.
According to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, Roger Stefan Witthoeft Jr., 33, was arraigned on March 1 for misdemeanor assault and battery with hate crime enhancement and violation of the victim’s constitutional rights by threat. of the force.
He pleaded not guilty in San Diego County Superior Court.
Witthoeft is accused of shoving and attempting to punch a San Diego Gas & Electric Co. traffic controller in September while shouting “a number of racial slurs” at the victim, who is Latino, and telling him of “Go back to your country, you f—immigrant,” according to the city attorney’s office.
Prosecutors said Witthoeft was also accused of asking the man, “Why don’t you speak English, you immigrant?” as well as challenging the worker to a fight, shoving and swinging at him, knocking his helmet off.
Witthoeft could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The Public Defender’s Office represented him at his arraignment last week. It was unclear on Tuesday which deputy public defender was handling his case.
Public records identify Witthoeft as Babbitt’s brother, and court records show they were co-defendants in a 2018 lawsuit alleging they and their Spring Valley-based pool service company failed to repay a cash advance high-interest loan they had obtained and signed. Witthoeft also identified himself as Babbitt’s brother last year in a interview with the New York Times.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was leading a crowd when a United States Capitol Police officer shot her. The video shows her climbing towards a broken opening in a set of doors leading to the President’s Lobby, a hallway that connects to the Chamber’s chamber, before she is shot.
Former President Trump and many of his supporters portrayed Babbitt as a martyr who was unjustly killed while protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump called her an “incredible person” in a registered posthumous birthday hello to her in october. He also asked the Justice Department to reinvestigate Babbitt’s death, though the officer who shot him has been cleared of any wrongdoing by federal prosecutors and Capitol police.
In social media posts since deleted, Babbitt, who embraced QAnon conspiracy theories online and allegedly flew a QAnon flag above his home in Ocean Beachrailed against illegal immigration and made vague allusions to threats along the border.
Now his brother is accused of beating a Latino and berating him with racial slurs. The incident happened around 11:10 p.m. on September 14 in an area near Ocean Beach and Point Loma at Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard, according to a criminal complaint and prosecutors.
An SDG&E crew carrying out repairs had set up a roadblock that Witthoeft fell on, according to the city attorney’s office, which typically prosecutes misdemeanor cases. When the SDG&E traffic controller notified Witthoeft of the road closure, he got out of his van and “verbally and physically confronted the worker,” prosecutors said.
The city attorney’s office said witnesses spoke to police about Witthoeft’s use of racial slurs, anti-immigrant remarks and physical confrontation.
Witthoeft told The New York Times last year that he and several other family members worked with Babbitt at Fowler’s Pool Service & Supply Inc., which she and her husband, Aaron, owned. On the day Babbitt was shot last year, at a time when vaccines for COVID-19 were not yet widely available, the company’s front door was adorned with a sign against COVID-19 protocols. Health which read: “Mask Free Autonomous Zone, Better Known as America.”
Court records showed the company had been sued twice in recent years, in San Diego and New York, for breach of contract.