Two out-of-state contract workers have been charged by prosecutors with felony assault with hate crime enhancements in the vicious attack on a Sikh man in Richmond last month.
Chase Bryan Little, 31, of Texas, (pictured below), and Colton Tye Leblanc, 24, of Louisiana, are accused of targeting Maan Singh Khalsa, 41, of Richmond as he was stopped at a red light near Hilltop Mall at about 9 p.m. on Sept. 25.
After someone in a truck thew a beer can at Khalsa’s car “wholly unprovoked,” according to the Sikh Coalition, Khalsa, an IT specialist and caregiver for the elderly, got out of the car and threw the can back at the truck. Occupants of the truck cursed at him. After one of the assailants exited the truck, a fearful Khalsa drove ahead and called 911.
But at a subsequent red light, the truck rolled up again and the two suspects exited the vehicle and attacked Khalsa through his window, “knocking off his Sikh turban and hitting his face repeatedly,” the Sikh Coalition said. During the attack, the assailants also reportedly “cut a fistful of his religiously-mandated hair with a knife.”
The cutting of his hair prompted the hate crime charge.
“The savage cutting of Mr. Khalsa’s unshorn hair, a sacred article of his faith, constitutes a hate crime under the law,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Mr. Khalsa sustained injuries to his fingers, hands, eye and teeth, the statement added.
The attack had prompted calls for hate crime charges by numerous community leaders and politicians, including Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier said such an act has “no place in our society.”
“I am pleased the District Attorney’s office has filed hate crime charges and is seeking justice for Mr. Khalsa, and upholding the values of the people of Richmond,” DeSaulnier said.
Khalsa thanked the Richmond Police Department and DA’s office.
“The charges are the first step to addressing violence and bigotry, which plague communities across the United States,” he said.