Did a Fresno man’s pepper spraying of a vehicle with pro-Palestinian activists constitute a hate crime?
Or was it provoked?
62-year-old Fresno resident Brian Turner was arrested by Fresno Police early Sunday morning after video of him pepper spraying pro-Palestinian protesters near Blackstone and Nees avenues surfaced on social media.
Turner was subsequently booked into Fresno County Jail on suspicion of assault.
He is currently being held on $150,000 bail.
Video of the incident, taken by the alleged victims, has been shared on social media. Beckwith said police used that video, but he was unsure if other evidence, such as city cameras monitoring that intersection, was reviewed.
The video appears to show a Palestinian flag waving from outside one car and near Turner, who had his window rolled down. Turner is seen gesturing, then spraying a substance toward the car. The edge of a door from the first vehicle is briefly seen on camera.
“One of the subjects in the vehicle exited the victim’s vehicle and began approaching the suspect’s vehicle in somewhat of an aggressive manner as that was occurring. The suspect, Mr. Turner, produced pepper spray and discharged the pepper spray at that subject,” Beckwith said.
When the alleged victims retreated back to their vehicles, Turner sprayed them again. While the first spaying could be self-defense, the second time would not be, Beckwith said.
“You had the second dousing, which occurred after those subjects were allowed back into their vehicles and and i.e. no longer an immediate threat or a threat at that point to Mr. Turner,” Beckwith said.
The local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that Fresno Police conduct a hate crimes investigation into Turner’s actions.
Beckwith told GV Wire that, from initial review of the incident, it does not appear to be a hate crime – which suggests that the act was motivated by the victims’ nationality.
“We don’t have information that (Turner) specifically went to that location with the intent of assaulting these individuals. What we do know is that the subjects in the victim’s vehicle actually initiated the contact with the suspect,” Beckwith told the pub.