United States

Attacker of Fil-Am photojournalist to face California court

Xenia Tupas

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Attacker of Fil-Am photojournalist to face California court

HOSPITALIZED. Filipino-American photojournalist Nicanor Arriola recovers at a hospital following an attack against him and his wife around the Sacramento capitol grounds.

Courtesy of Nicanor Arriola

One of two suspects who allegedly assaulted photojournalist Nicanor Arriola and his wife faces three counts of felony

LOS ANGELES, USA – The Sacramento District Attorney filed three counts of felony against one of the two suspects in the assault of a Los Angeles-based Filipino photojournalist and his wife while they were strolling in broad daylight at the Sacramento state capitol grounds in February this year.

Suspect Keylen Xavier Lee Farley was arraigned last March 15 before the Department 62 of the Sacramento Superior Court following an investigation which led to his arrest and the subsequent filing of felony charges by Deputy District Attorney Casey Newton. Farley is detained at the Sacramento County Main Jail.

Farley is also expected to appear in a scheduled mandatory settlement of the case on Monday where he will face for the first time after the assault his victims Nicanor Arriola of the Philippine Post and Weekend Balita, and his wife Julienne Ochengco. The couple only learned of the formal charges and updates on the case last week.

“It is like having a double injury,” Arriola said, because aside from the physical abuse, there was abuse of the system which, at this point has failed them. It was learned that Newton had filed the case on March 8, 2023, but when Arriola talked on March 14 to the detective of the Sacramento Police Department handling the case, he was told that he cannot reveal the name of the suspect because the case was under investigation.

Attacker of Fil-Am photojournalist to face California court

Arriola and his wife were denied the Assistance to Nationals by the office of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco. Instead they were referred to the Victims Assistance Program of the District Attorney’s Office.

Still, the couple authorized the consulate to retrieve legal documents and information related to the case. They were provided last March 29, a copy of the charge sheet from the District Attorney’s Office.

Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer said that the information from the Sacramento PD and District Attorney’s Office was insufficient evidence under the standard proof required in criminal cases to establish a hate crime.

BEFORE ASSAULT. Nicanor Arriola’s wife, Julienne Ochengco, poses at the Sacramento capitol building before the couple is assaulted.

Arriola suffered six broken ribs resulting from the incident. Two counts of felony for robbery of the second degree and aggravated assault were filed against Farley. A third count of felony was filed for elder abuse on Ochengco whose serious injuries caused her physical and mental suffering. (READ: Filipino Americans in California make their voices heard to ‘Stop the Hate’)

The assault and robbery happened while the couple was walking around the Sacramento state capitol grounds and taking photographs since they were returning to Los Angeles the following day. Arriola and his wife were visiting family living just outside Sacramento.

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In an interview, Arriola, who had two big cameras on his shoulders, said they were taking turns posing for photographs when a tall African-American grabbed the camera on his left shoulder. There was a struggle and Arriola fell but Farley did not get away with the camera even as it had dropped to the pavement.

Arriola said after he shouted for help, one of the bystanders was able to get a video which showed how he was assaulted, dragged on the pavement and kicked on his chest. The suspect fled on a getaway car which also ran them over. The car was driven by another African-American but police have not yet identified him until last week.

The victims were brought for treatment at the University of California Davis Medical Center. They were allowed to recover at home.

Although not fully recovered, Arriola and his wife traveled back to Carson in Southern California after last week.

It has been two months but the couple have not returned to work because of the pain from injuries suffered during the attack. Ochengco also has difficulty sleeping at night due to the traumatic experience. – Rappler.com

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