SAN DIEGO — San Diego’s city attorney has filed hate crime and battery charges against a San Diego man accused of going on a racist tirade against a utility worker.
The confrontation happened on a road in the Point Loma area in September 2021, when a driver came upon a San Diego Gas & Electric roadblock, which was established so workers could safely repair an electrical box.
At about 11:10 p.m., Roger Stefan Witthoeft Jr. drove up to the closure at the corner of Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard, City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office said in a news release. Traffic cones, signs and amber lights warned drivers that they would need to take a detour in the area.
After being told the road was closed by an SDG&E traffic controller, prosecutors say Witthoeft got out of his pickup and screamed at the worker.
“Why don’t you talk in English you f—ing immigrant?” he yelled, according to witnesses interviewed by police. “Go back to your country you f—ing immigrant.”
Witnesses told police that Witthoeft also yelled racial slurs at the worker, who is Latino, the city attorney’s office said. He’s then accused of challenging the worker to fight him, shoving him and taking a swing at the worker, knocking off his hard hat.
Witthoeft was arraigned on charges of committing battery, with a hate crime enhancement, and violating the victim’s constitutional rights by threat of force, according to the city attorney. His trial is scheduled for April.