Salem men plead guilty to bias crime in June attack

Two Salem men pleaded guilty on Monday to injuring another man because of their perception of the victim’s sexual orientation.

The victim told police the men attacked him and called him a homophobic slur as they beat him outside his south Salem apartment, according to a Salem Police Department affidavit.

Brandon D. Toquero, 30, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and first-degree bias crime in Marion County Circuit Court, court records show. Prosecutors dismissed a charge of second-degree assault as part of his plea deal. 

Judge Donald Abar sentenced Toquero to 36 months of probation. Toquero was ordered to complete an anger management program, participate in a substance abuse evaluation and complete any required treatment.

Jerome L. Ricks, 24, pleaded guilty to first-degree bias crime and second-degree robbery. Prosecutors agreed to drop other charges of second-degree bias crime, third-degree assault and third-degree robbery as part of his plea deal, according to his plea petition.

His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Toquero’s and Ricks’ guilty pleas come five months after the incident occurred.

At 9:48 p.m. on June 26, a Salem police officer responded to a report of a physical fight at the Meadowlark Village Apartments on Southeast Sunnyside Road, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The victim told police he had “a history of issues” with Ricks, a man later identified as Toquero and a woman who lived on the property, adding that Ricks had “made homophobic slurs to him in the past,” the report said. 

He said Ricks had been trespassed from the location, and the Salem Housing Authority had told him to document when Ricks was on the property.

The victim told police when he saw Ricks arrive in his vehicle with Toquero, he walked out of his apartment with pepper spray in his pocket to take a video of Ricks and his vehicle as documentation.

The victim said Toquero yelled at him, calling him a racist slur used to refer to Black people as well as a homophobic slur. The victim is white, according to the affidavit.

He told police that as he tried to get Ricks’ vehicle in the video, Ricks was hiding between two parked cars and attacked him and he fell to the ground.

The victim told police that “everything happened really fast and he was not sure exactly what order things happened,” according to the report. He said Toquero hit him in the head with a pair of pliers, and both Ricks and Toquero continued to attack and hit him while he was on the ground.

“(The victim) said it was a ‘KO’ moment, where he was unable to move or get off the ground,” the report said, adding that the victim told police he did not lose consciousness during the incident. He said both men kicked and punched him and both called him a homophobic slur “during the physical fight.”

The victim said the woman who lived on the property had been trying to break up the fight and that Ricks pushed him into the woman, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her head. 

He told police Ricks also took his cellphone and hit it against the ground, and he believed it was because he had been recording the incident. The phone fell into pieces, with the back, battery and screen coming apart, according to the affidavit.

The victim added he smelled the odor of alcohol coming from both men, who then left in their vehicle.

The officer noted in her report that the victim’s shoulder “appeared separated and was visibly different (than) his left shoulder.” 

She reported he had road rash along his arm and shoulder, road rash and abrasions on his back and shoulder blades, and was unable to raise his right arm above shoulder level. 

He also had a visible injury to the back of his head “between the nape of his neck and right ear,” an abrasion injury to his left shin, and an abrasion injury to his left elbow which was bleeding, the affidavit said. The victim called the officer four days later to follow up and said his right collar bone had been broken and he needed reconstructive surgery.

Salem police arrested Toquero on July 3 at the same southeast Salem address where police reported the incident took place a week prior, according to the affidavit.

During his arrest, he told police he had pushed the victim “during the physical altercation” because the victim had pushed the woman onto the ground, the report said. He was booked into Marion County Jail.

Salem police arrested Ricks on a warrant on Sept. 28, court records show.

He remained in custody as of Friday afternoon at Marion County Jail and was being held without bail.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.