While visiting family in California, an out-of-state police officer was arrested along with his brother and his brother’s wife for allegedly stabbing an unarmed 17-year-old boy. Although the Huntington Beach Police Department claim that a hate crime was not committed, the off-duty cop reportedly started the fight with a racial slur directed at the victim.
At 4:16 p.m. on Sunday, Illinois police officer Arthur Roman, his brother Martin Roman, and his sister-in-law Jessica Roman were sitting in a parked car near a 24 Hour Fitness when they heard two males speaking Arabic. As 17-year-old Karam Jarrah and his brother-in-law Asem Dghem walked past the parked car, they reportedly heard a racial slur targeted at them.
“He was like, ‘What’s up Obama bam?’” Jarrah recalled.
As the confrontation immediately turned violent, Roman allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed the unarmed teen twice. After the Romans fled the scene, Jarrah was taken to a local hospital and treated for his injuries. Jarrah was eventually released from the hospital, while Dghem was not wounded in the attack.
“It was just like a fountain squirting blood,” Jarrah said of his wound.
According to a statement from the police on Tuesday, the Romans were apprehended shortly after the stabbing incident and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery. Although the victims told police that they were attacked for speaking Arabic and subjected to racial slurs, Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Marlatt claims no hate crime was committed because “this was a spur-of-the-moment argument.”
After posting $25,000 bail, Martin and his wife Jessica were released from jail. According to Marlatt, Arthur Roman had to post $100,000 bail due to the fact that he lives out-of-state. Oak Forest Police in Illinois has placed Roman on administrative leave pending an investigation into the stabbing. Roman has been an officer with the Oak Forest Police since 2014.
“They have to protect us, not stab us. He’s a police officer, supposed to be a role model,” Dghem told ABC7.
According to the FBI, a hate crime is defined as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” The FBI does not exclude “spur-of-the-moment arguments” from its definition of a hate crime. But the fact that Roman is a fellow cop does factor into the Huntington Beach Police’s decision not to label the stabbing as a hate crime.