USA

Woman who went on anti-Asian tirades facing arrest on separate battery charge

A woman, whose racist, anti-Asian tirades last month shocked the public and the city of Torrance, has a warrant out for her arrest in connection to a confrontation separate from those recently captured on cellphone videos at a park.

Lena Hernandez, 54, was charged Thursday in an alleged case of battery stemming from an incident on Oct. 14, 2019, the Torrance city attorney’s office said.

The confrontation occurred at Del Amo Fashion Center mall in Torrance, at which police allege that Hernandez, a retired social worker from Long Beach, verbally assaulted a custodian and struck another person who tried to intervene. Detectives had been investigating the alleged incident in addition to the two park incidents in June.

In the June incidents, at Charles H. Wilson Park, a woman later identified as Hernandez was recorded on video hurling profanities at a younger woman exercising at a set of stairs. “Go back to whatever ... Asian country you belong in,” she said.

In a second outburst later that day, a video showed her berating a man in his car with two of his children present. In the video, the woman says, “You know what, you need to go home,” while glancing at the man’s vehicle, where his two children were sitting.

The unidentified man responds, “I am home,” before the woman tells him to stop playing games.

She is then heard using profanity and threatening to kill the man, who turns his camera to record the woman’s license plate before she refers to him as a “Chinaman,” speaking to him in gibberish and complaining that his vehicle was parked too close to her Honda.

Video clips of both encounters were posted on Twitter and quickly went viral. Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey described what he saw on social media as “nauseating to absolutely anybody in our community,” in a city that he said is between 30% to 40% Asian or Pacific Islander and where 80 languages are spoken.

Torrance officials said Thursday that the city attorney had reviewed the police investigations and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support filing criminal charges against Hernandez for her tirades at the park.

“Currently, there are critical gaps in the evidence regarding how each incident unfolded that result in the lack of necessary certainty required to initiate criminal prosecution against any suspect,” city officials said. “It is a prosecutor’s solemn duty to analyze a case based on the evidence and triability and not based on politics or public sentiment unrelated to the likelihood of prevailing before a jury.”

“If anyone has additional information related to either of these incidents,” the statement added, “they are urged to contact the Torrance Police Department.”

As for the battery allegation at the mall, Hernandez is scheduled to be heard at Torrance Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

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