Cupertino man charged with hate crime for assault on phone store worker, threatening deputy

A 61-year-old man is being charged with a violent hate crime in Cupertino. Santa Clara County prosecutors allege Clifford Ray Stewart, 61, attacked a worker at a mobile phone store after they simply tried to recover a sign that the man had vandalized.

Stewart was supposed to make an appearance in front a judge on Friday at the Palo Alto courthouse.  He refused to be transported to his hearing so the judge ordered him to continue to be held without bail. The alleged crime occurred on June 1 at a T-Mobile store on the 20800 block of Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino.

When the two employees working at the time went outside to recover the sign prosecutors say he threatened them both – and attacked one of them -- solely on the basis of their race. 

"Two employees from the store, one a Hispanic female and the other an Asian man, went to retrieve the sign and the defendant then began yelling and screaming at both of them – telling them to go back to where they came from and calling them ethnic slurs," said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. 

Prosecutors said Stewart allegedly yelled "(expletive) Chinese, you don't belong here," and "stupid Mexicans."

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Rosen said that is when the violence began. "Then he attacked the Hispanic woman, kicked her in the stomach, punched her in the face. She temporarily lost her vision. She was taken to the hospital," Rosen said. 

Stewart then allegedly fled to a nearby sports store but was arrested shortly afterward by county sheriff's deputies. Prosecutors said Stewart also verbally abused the arresting deputy calling him racial epithets and allegedly threatened to kill him. He said, "All you piece of (expletive) people sneak into this country, have a baby, and get a free apartment," according to the District Attorney's Office.

Stewart is now facing a felony hate crime and assault charges for his attack on the Hispanic T-Mobile worker and also a misdemeanor for later threatening the Hispanic deputy that arrested him after the store workers called 9-1-1.  

Rosen said his office prosecuted more hate crime cases in 2021 than ever before and the trend is disturbing. "It is wrong," Rosen said. "I am here because this is a very diverse community that we live in and, for the most part, people get along and are respectful of one another. But we have had some outliers and these individuals have to be held accountable for what they did," Rosen said. 

Rosen says it is fairly unusual for a defendant to refuse to come to court, but there are ways move forward in such cases should it become necessary.   The judge ordered a new hearing for next Monday, June 6. Stewart will remain behind bars without bail until that time.

Bay City News contributed to this report.