Man arrested on hate crime charge freed from Louisiana jail
GONZALES, La. (AP) — A man accused of telling a woman to “go back to Mexico” and attacking her parents has been released from jail in Louisiana.
Robert Ray, 60, was released Monday after his arrest Friday on several charges including a hate crime, WAFB-TV reports . Ascension Parish Judge Marilyn Lambert said in a statement that she had no choice but to free Ray on his own recognizance because of an unrelated federal lawsuit against her and Sheriff Jeff Wiley.
As part of the lawsuit’s settlement, she agreed to release defendants held solely on misdemeanors unless they were one of 12 charges listed in the suit.
The hate crime charge Ray was arrested on was not among those listed, but the news station contacted Lambert after noticing simple battery was listed. Ray is charged with two counts of simple battery from his September 14 arrest.
Lambert said she had no comment because explaining her decision to release him would be commenting on a specific case.
Ray is accused of making the “go back to Mexico” comment to the 19-year-old woman inside a boot store. Police said he pushed the woman’s mother to the floor when she told him it was “not a nice thing to say,” and also hit her father with his fist and a boot when he intervened.
Police Chief Sherman Jackson is furious Ray was released from jail without bond, considering he has a criminal history. Police reports say Ray had been placed on probation for charges from 2017 that include illegal carrying of a weapon.
In that case, Ray was accused of approaching a man and a girl with a gun in a Walmart parking lot last year and telling them, “This is what you Mexicans deserve.” The charges were dropped when the alleged victims did not show up for court.
“I consider him a dangerous person, and I don’t think he should be walking the streets right now,” Jackson said.
Ray told WAFB-TV on the phone that, “The liberal media is trying to make me look like a beast, and that’s not true.”
Information from: WAFB-TV, http://wafb.com