Press Release from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office
On the night of September 25, 2016 Mr. Khalsa was alone in his car, dressed in traditional Sikh clothes on his way to a religious ceremony when occupants of a pickup truck began to throw beer cans at his vehicle while stopped at a red light on Hilltop Road in Richmond CA.
At a subsequent intersection two assailants exited the truck and proceed to repeatedly punch Mr. Khalsa in the face through his driver’s side window. Mr. Khalsa’s turban was displaced during the attack and the assailants proceeded to force Mr. Khalsa’s head down and cut his unshorn hair- a sacred article of his religious faith.
Mr. Khalsa sustained a swollen black eye, numerous damaged teeth, and several knife wounds to his left hand. A penetrating knife wound caused nerve damage and required stitches. Due to an infection from the knife wound, Mr. Khalsa’s pinky finger was amputated.
On Thursday May 18, 2017 Defendants Chase Little and Colton Leblanc, residents of Texas entered pleas of no contest to felony assault and a hate crime enhancement for the attack upon Richmond, CA resident Maan Singh Khalsa, an observer of the Sikh faith. The two were sentenced to three years in state prison.
“The recognition of the attack as a hate crime – as harm to my dignity and my entire community – is the first step in the process,” said Mr. Khalsa, who recognized his attackers during his statement at the sentencing hearing of the defendants. He stated: “I still consider you my brothers, and I hope that you will learn about me and my community, and one day consider me your brother, too.”
“This case began with an atrocious event and very few details as to the identity of the perpetrators,” Deputy District Attorney Simon O’Connell stated. “The successful prosecution of this hate crime came about due to the collaborative investigative work of the Richmond Police Department with the District Attorney’s Office.”
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson declared: “Any attack on a person based upon his perceived religion and identity will be vigorously prosecuted.”