OB man is convicted of battery and hate crime allegation for slurs aimed at Latino SDG&E worker
An Ocean Beach man who assaulted and hurled racial slurs at a Latino utility worker in Point Loma last year was convicted by a jury of battery with a hate crime allegation, the San Diego city attorney’s office said Nov. 9.
The incident happened Sept. 15 at a San Diego Gas & Electric roadblock at the corner of Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard.
Roger Stefan Witthoeft, 34, was accused of aggressively confronting and assaulting a worker who was diverting traffic in the area, the city attorney’s office said. During the altercation, Witthoeft called the worker an "[expletive] immigrant” and yelled at him to “talk in English,” even thought the two were already speaking English.
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In addition to battery with a hate crime enhancement, Witthoeft was charged with violating the worker’s constitutional rights by force. He was found guilty of all counts, the city attorney’s office said.
“This jury has sent a clear message that violent, abusive and racist conduct like this has no place in our community,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a statement.
Witthoeft faces up to a year in jail, one year of probation and a $1,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Dec. 13, in San Diego County Superior Court.
Witthoeft was previously convicted of vandalism in a 2016 confrontation involving a 71-year-old Latino man in Lakeside.
In that incident, the man asked Witthoeft to move his pickup truck. In response, a screaming Witthoeft approached the man’s truck, kicked the door and kicked a window out of the camper shell, city attorney’s officials said.
Witthoeft is the brother of Ashli Babbitt, the Ocean Beach woman who was shot and killed by a police officer Jan. 6, 2021, inside the U.S. Capitol.