(KTVU) Richmond, Calif. - Two contract workers for the Chevron refinery in Richmond have been fired in the wake of their arrests by police in an attack on a Sikh man.
Police say Chase Little of Texas and Dustin Albarado of Louisiana punched and cut part of Maan Singh Khalsa's hair with a knife.
And for Khalsa, it's not only an attack on him, it's also an attack on his religion. As a follower of the Sikh faith, he keeps his hair unshorn and wears a turban.
The Contra Costa County DA's office will decide this week whether the two men will face hate crime charges.
Prosecutor Simon O'connell told KTVU, "The case is absolutely being examined as a hate crime."
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said, "I hope that they'll get swift justice. You know, we're hoping the district attorney will look at this as a hate crime, and prosecute it as one."
It all started the night of Sept. 25... Khalsa was stopped at a traffic light at Blume and Hilltop drives in Richmond. A Ford pickup truck pulled up alongside him, and someone threw a beer can at his car.
The two cars pulled up to another red light near Interstate 80. That's where three men got out of the truck and grabbed Khalsa through his window.
"They started beating him in the face. They hada knife," said Harsimran Kaur, Sikh Coalition legal director. "His turban got knocked off. They ended up cutting off part of his hair. They said, 'cut his f- hair.' "
The Sikh Coalition says Khalsa suffered a black eye, cuts and bruises and may need to have several root canals.
And while trying to defend himself from the knife attack, his finger was cut and may have to be amputated.
Richmond police arrested Little and Albarado on suspicion of felony assault.
They've since been fired from their jobs with a contractor for the Chevron Refinery in Richmond.
In a statement to KTVU, Chevron said it "regrets this very unfortunate incident and does not tolerate this type of behavior of its employees or contractors. Chevron has spoken to its contractor regarding their employees and have confirmed these individuals have been terminated. Additionally, Chevron will ensure the individuals committing these alleged acts are suspended from entering the refinery under any other employer."
Koch Specialty Plant Services, which fired the two men and was under contract to Chevron, said it "does not tolerate this type of behavior and is appalled by the reported actions. Although this incident took place outside of the workplace, the employees involved have been terminated and we are cooperating with the investigation of this matter."
"The bottom line is, this is just absolutely unacceptable - it's unacceptable anywhere," Butt said. "But it's particularly unacceptable in the Bay Area."