A Sacramento federal court awarded a $25,000 judgment to a Sikh man in Sutter County who alleged that the county and two sheriff’s deputies inadequately investigated racist hate crimes he experienced in 2021.
Rouble Claire, a retiree, filed the civil lawsuit in May 2022 suing Sutter County, alleging that the sheriff’s deputies caused unnecessary delays and inaction in the case which led to prosecutors declining to pursue charges, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Claire told The Sacramento Bee that a woman, identified as Sara Hollis, threatened to ram him with her car and shouted racial slurs. Later that afternoon, Claire caught a different woman writing slurs with chalk on the driveway in front of his home.
Claire received “little aid” despite making appeals to the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office, according to a statement from the Sikh Coalition. The pair of deputies who investigated the incidents reportedly interfered with the evidence by washing away the slurs before taking photographs.
The deputies also refused to reopen the investigation until many months later, at which point the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office did not bring charges, according to Appeal-Democrat.
“This judgment reflects the unavoidable fact that Sutter County’s institutions failed our client,” attorneys Gina Szeto-Wong and Sean Tamura-Sato said in a statement. “No one should have to experience hateful words or conduct – nor should they go months without an adequate investigation or have their legitimate concerns belittled and ignored when the safety of them and their family is at risk.”
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Claire consulted with the Sikh Coalition to bring the hate crime charges to the appropriate offices, according to the Sacramento Bee. In the Sikh Coalition’s statement, the nonprofit stated it plans to contact District Attorney Jennifer Dupre to discuss criminal charges.
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“Mr. Claire experienced inaction tantamount to injustice that no one else should suffer,” Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur Aakre said.
According to The Sacramento Bee, Claire and Hollis agreed to use the court’s voluntary dispute resolution program to handle the case.
“This settlement is a step forward for my own peace of mind–but more importantly, it will hopefully help to ensure that nothing like my experience ever happens to anyone in Sutter County again,” Claire said in the Sikh Coalition statement. “It is the responsibility of our law enforcement officials to take all crimes and threats seriously, and accountability is essential when they do not live up to that standard.
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