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Ex-firefighter says was drugged before Asian American attack

April 16, 2021 GMT

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A former Bentonville firefighter charged with attacking an Asian American man in Hot Springs says the firefighter was unknowingly drugged with a hallucinogen while at a bar prior to the altercation, according to his attorney.

Ben Snodgrass, who resigned as a firefighter after being charged with misdemeanor battery and public intoxication, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Snodgrass attacked Liem Nguyen “for not being American” outside a Hot Springs casino on March 13, according to a probable cause affidavit.

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But Brent Miller, Snodgrass’ attorney, told The Sentinel-Record that security video shows Nguyen hitting Snodgrass in the face and knocking him to the ground, then hitting him in the head.

“I hope upon reflection by the prosecutor’s office, this battery charge is dropped, and Nguyen is charged,” Miller said.

Attorney Julie Roper, who represents Nguyen, said Snodgrass’ claims are inconsistent.

“I’d be curious to know the reason behind Mr. Snodgrass’ resignation from his position with the Bentonville Fire Department if he truly felt he was a victim,” Roper said. “The fact that he has resigned a position with Bentonville Fire Department indicates to me that he understands there was some wrong in what he did, and that needs to be prosecuted.”

The incident took place at a time of increasing national attention to reports of violence against Asian Americans, particularly since the March 16 fatal shootings of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three massage businesses in the Atlanta area.