MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - A woman from Marin County could spend a year in jail, accused of spitting on a man of Asian descent in Mountain View. On Monday afternoon, she was charged with a hate crime and battery.
"When I saw her spit into the food I was really shocked," said Witness Luna Marrero. "I mean I couldn’t believe this was something happening in our community."
Marrero saw something she didn’t like and said something. Out of nowhere, she said a woman spat toward an Asian diner at Eureka Restaurant in Mountain View and then told him to go back to his country before calling him a racial slur.
"They don’t deserve that, they don’t deserve to be treated that way," said Marrero.
Police identified the woman as 39-year-old Karen Inman from Greenbrae in Marin County. She is the same woman in surveillance video seen stealing from an Asian grocery store also on Castro Street that same day.
The district attorney’s office did not pursue shoplifting but did pursue a hate crime at the restaurant.
"This crime is not unfortunately against that particular gentleman," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Leung. "It really victimizes the whole API community."
According to "Stop the AAPI Hate" project, that tracks incidents of hate against the API or Asian Pacific Islander community, out of 3,000 cases reported nationwide since the start of the pandemic, seven percent of people were spat or coughed upon.
"We were reading that so often, we created a special category for spitting and coughing," said Stop the Hate Co-Founder Russell Jeung. "It seems people are weaponizing the pandemic, weaponizing Coronavirus and trying to reinfect Asians."
Marrero works on the diversity team for a tech company. She said 25 people witnessed it and didn’t get involved.
"The least I could do is stand up for this man, speak up, and say something," said Marrero. "Be an active bystander because nobody in the world, in the United States deserves to be treated this way."
Authorities said Inman has denied the alleged behavior. Court documents reveal she has a history of petty theft. She was also arrested for spitting on a BevMo San Jose employee back in January.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.