Man cleared of all charges in Vegas case called a hate crime

February 3, 2022 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — An Air Force veteran who had been accused of a hate crime attack on an Asian American bubble tea shop owner in Las Vegas has been cleared of all charges after a judge was told no racial comments were evident and the business owner pulled a gun before the two men fought and a shot was fired.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Amy Chelini dismissed all charges Tuesday after hearing evidence that the business owner drew his gun and advanced toward Anthony Joseph Dishari before they fought in a parking lot.

“My client is not a racist. He’s been exonerated,” Dishari’s attorney, Sean Sullivan, said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Michael Dickerson told the judge that video from a nearby store showed the two men and recorded the sound of the gunshot during the scuffle, but no one was hit by gunfire.

Both men are 36 years old. The tea shop owner has not been charged with a crime.

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Authorities said he received facial and rib injuries in the fight with Dishari, a former military police officer who Sullivan said worked for 15 years as an armed security guard.

Dishari was initially arrested late Saturday on charges including battery causing bodily harm, attempted robbery and committing a hate or bias crime.

Sullivan said Dishari spent several nights in jail before he was able to post $25,000 bail and obtain a GPS monitor, and his family was harassed following reports that the fight amounted to a bias crime.

The safety of Asian Americans in the Las Vegas area during the pandemic has been a focus of public attention following incidents including the December shooting of a waiter in the city’s Chinatown district.