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Woman accused of spitting on Asian American man in Silicon Valley charged with hate crime

Karen Inman
Karen Inman was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor hate crime and battery after prosecutors say she spit on an Asian American man in Northern California.
(Mountain View Police Department)

A woman accused of spitting on an Asian American man and yelling an ethnic slur as he dined outdoors in Silicon Valley has been charged with a misdemeanor hate crime and battery, officials said.

Karen Inman, 39, told the man to “go back to where you came from” as he ate lunch with a friend Feb. 13, Santa Clara County prosecutors said in a statement Monday.

The case is the latest in a string of incidents of racially motivated harassment and assault against Asian Americans since the coronavirus hit the U.S. last year.

Inman first came to police attention the same day that the man was spat on after officers received a report of a woman taking food and clothing from a store.

During the theft, the woman told the store owners she didn’t have to pay “because of their Asian ethnicity,” Mountain View police spokeswoman Katie Nelson said.

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Officers saw Inman walking in the downtown area and held her for questioning, Nelson said. During that time, they learned that she had been accused of spitting on the diner several steps from the market.

Manager Dave Roberts, whose mother is Japanese, wrote a letter to his Dodgers colleagues condemning the recent wave of violence against Asian Americans.

Police arrested Inman Friday after bringing the case against her to prosecutors. They described her as a transient, and prosecutors said her last known address was in Greenbrae, an unincorporated community in Marin County.

The two counts against Inman carry a maximum penalty of one and a half years in prison. The hate crime charge also comes with a mandatory community service requirement, Deputy Dist. Atty. Sheryl Leung said.

Inman was not charged in connection with the theft because the store owners declined to press charges, Leung said.

“Our community stands together against any hatred and racism against the Asian Pacific Islander community,” Santa Clara County Dist. Atty. Jeff Rosen said. “It is ignorant. It is wrong. And when it is criminal — those who are charged will face the full power of my office to hold them accountable.”


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