Video: Calif. inmate assaults custody assistant in possible hate crime

The assistant was treated at a local hospital for injuries to her face and head

By Alex Wigglesworth
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County inmate accused of assaulting an Asian American custody assistant at the Sheriff's Department's Inmate Reception Center last week could be charged with a hate crime, officials said.

The man, Arnulfo Meza, 29, was being detained at the downtown jail that processes most of the bookings and releases for the county's system of lockups on Wednesday when he asked to use the restroom, the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Meza had one hand unshackled from his waist chain and allegedly punched the 54-year-old custody assistant as she handed him toilet paper, sending her crashing into medical carts, the Sheriff's Department said. He then punched her twice more in the face as she lay on the floor, according to authorities.

The Sheriff's Department released surveillance video of the attack.

After being knocked down and punched, the woman regained her feet and walked away from the man to call for help. Other deputies quickly arrived and restrained him.

The jail assistant was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries to her face and head, the Sheriff's Department said.

Meza was taken to a high-security area of the jail and is facing additional charges, which could include assault and hate crimes, the Sheriff's Department said. It was not clear on what basis he was initially arrested.

Meza was being held in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of $105,000 bail, according to jail records.

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