A California man was found guilty of a hate crime Thursday for sucker punching a Black Whole Foods worker and leaving him with a broken nose and severe damage to two of his front teeth.
The 26-year-old man injured didn’t know Fernando Ramirez when the man approached the employee at the store in Laguna Beach, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a news release.
The victim, who started his shift at 5 a.m. was on a lunch break about 10 a.m. on June 15 when Ramirez walked up from behind and punched him in the face as he turned around, according to a trial brief the Los Angeles Times obtained from Orange County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Chrisopoulos.
Ramirez, 23, was later caught running from the scene of the attack, the newspaper reported.
He was placed in the back of a squad car, where he used a racial epithet to describe the victim, according to the prosecutor.
“Hate does not belong in Orange County,” Spitzer said in his office’s news release. “If you commit a crime motivated by hate, I can promise you the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ramirez was convicted of one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury, one misdemeanor violation of civil rights by force and a felony hate crime enhancement, Spitzer’s office reported.
Ramirez was earlier sentenced to two years in prison for a 2014 gang related felony assault.
His sentencing in the recent crime is set for Dec. 13, 2019, and he faces a maximum of eight years in state prison, Spitzer’s office reported.