Photographer sues over 2021 attack on Jewish diners
LOS ANGELES - Two men previously charged with hate crimes after they were allegedly part of a group dressed in black that attacked Jewish men outside a Beverly Grove restaurant in 2021 are being sued by a non-Jewish photographer who was battered during the melee.
Mher Hagopian, an Armenian-American, brought the suit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Samer Jaylusi and Xavier Pabon, alleging civil rights violations, assault, battery, conspiracy to commit assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Hagopian seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Representatives for Jaylusi and Pabon could not be immediately reached.
A cell phone video was recorded of the May 18, 2021, attack, which took place about 9:45 p.m. outside Sushi Fumi, a Japanese restaurant on North La Cienega Boulevard. A group of cars with Palestinian flags arrived with about two dozen passengers and megaphones, the suit states.
"The convoy was there simply to seek out Jews," the suit states. "Indeed, the area of Los Angeles adjacent to Sushi Fumi is widely known to be one of the centers for Jewish life in Los Angeles."
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Hagopian was hired to take photos at the upcoming wedding of his Jewish friend, so the two of them and two Jewish friends of the future groom met for dinner outside at Sushi Fumi to discuss the wedding plans, according to the suit.
Most of the convoy passengers' identities were obscured by hooded sweaters or other garb that partially or fully covered their faces, the suit states. They yelled out antisemitic remarks, including "dirty Jew," "Are you Jewish?," "Are you Israeli?" and "Be ashamed of yourselves," the suit states.
"Refusing to be intimidated, Hagopian's friends responded that they were Jewish," the suit states.
At least one bottle thrown from the convoy hit Hagopian in the head and one other glass object shattered on the sidewalk near dining patrons, according to the suit.
"All hell broke loose," the suit states.
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Other diners ran inside the restaurant or away from the area, but Hagopian and his friends were quickly targeted because they did not have the chance to escape, the suit states.
"At this point, Hagopian and his friends truly feared for their lives," the suit states.
The plaintiff grabbed a nearby stanchion that had roped off Sushi Fumi's outdoor dining area and tried to fend off the attackers and protect his friends, the suit states.
At least four men, including Jaylusi and Pabon, overtook Hagopian, slammed him against a vehicle and began beating him with their fists and arms while also spraying him with an aerosol chemical, the suit states.
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"Hagopian's selfless conduct saved others from suffering severe injury" and led to Jaylusi, Pabon and the others leaving, the suit states.
"In the aftermath of this chaos, Hagopian and his friends, and their fellow diners, were left physically and emotionally beaten," the suit states.
Hagopian suffered emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and injury to his reputation because of the attack, the suit states.
The attack was condemned by many faith leaders as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti. The defendants were arrested a week later and in September, District Attorney George Gascon charged Jaylusi and Pabon with two felony counts of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, along with hate crime enhancements.
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