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Police Files

Man convicted of hate crime for punching African American man at local grocery store

On Thursday, Oct 17, a jury found a San Clemente man guilty of a felony hate crime for sucker punching an African American man, who was working at Whole Foods Market in downtown Laguna.

The attack left the victim with a broken nose and severe damage to his two front teeth.

Fernando Ramirez, 23, of San Clemente, 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.

Police Files Fernando RamirezThe 26-year-old victim was working at the local Whole Foods, at the 200 block of Broadway Street, on June 15, at 9:56 a.m., when Ramirez ran up behind him and punched him in the face. The victim did not know his attacker.

After his arrest, Ramirez went on a rant filled with racial epithets that targeted African Americans, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

“Hate does not belong in Orange County,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “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.”

At the time of the crime, LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “Without instigation, the RP said the suspect ran towards the victim and punched him in the face. The suspect fled the scene and was located shortly after in the 500 block of South Coast Highway. The force of the punch fractured the victim’s nose. He was subsequently taken into custody for felony battery.” 

Ramirez has a prior felony state prison sentence for a 2014 gang related felony assault. He was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Ramirez is scheduled to be sentenced on December 13. He faces a maximum of eight years in state prison. Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos prosecuted this case.

Alleged Cleo Street roof prowler arrested

On Tuesday, Oct 15, at 2:18 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 100 block of Cleo Street for the report of the sound of someone either on the property or on the roof.

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers arrived and found Carson resident Marlon Hardin on the roof of an adjacent residence. When officers illuminated Hardin to detain him, he tried to climb down and fell into an alley. Hardin immediately got up and ran from the officers.

“Hardin ran into an enclosed yard with nowhere to go. He surrendered and was taken into custody without incident,” Sgt Cota said. 

Marlon Edward Hardin, 31, was arrested for alleged prowling and resisting arrest.

Bail was set at $500.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

-By Suzie Harrison

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