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White couple faces hate crime charges after hotel attack on Black employee

Police are still searching for the two suspects.

Crystal Caldwell NBC Connecticut

A white New York couple is now facing hate crime charges after they violently attacked a Black hotel employee on June 26. The Stonington Police Department announced Friday (July 10) that the charges have been upgraded against Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay for physically punching and kicking Crystal Caldwell. The attack was caught on hotel surveillance footage.

Orbay faces third-degree assault and intimidation based on bigotry and bias. Sarner faces charges of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and intimidation based on bigotry and bias. Authorities are still looking for the two suspects, but arrest warrants have been signed.

The hotel worker also said that she was called a racial slur during the attack. “When he was stomping me and the girl stopped, she said, ‘The monkey’s had enough,’” Caldwell told NBC Connecticut. “Every second, every minute, I can see his foot just coming and stomping me. There’s no down time from it, right now mentally,” she continued.

Hotel surveillance showed the suspects approach Caldwell while she was near an ice machine in the hotel. Sarner punched her, threw her to the ground and kicked her in the head.

Police received two 911 calls the night of the attack. The first one came from a colleague of Caldwell. The caller told the dispatcher that a guest was “beating up on my desk clerk” and “he is smacking my desk clerk around.” Another person is heard in the background of the call saying, “I want him arrested now.”

A second call came from one of the suspects. “I was just assaulted by staff,” the man said. The dispatcher asked, “How did they assault you?” He replied, “Punching my head. It’s on camera.” Caldwell sustained a concussion as well as injuries to her eye, back and knees. After the attack, the suspects and the victim went to the hospital for medical assistance, but the couple later returned to the hotel to get their stuff and left the state.

On Saturday (July 11), people are organizing a “Justice For Crystal” rally outside of the Stonington Police Department.

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