Two people in the past month have stepped out of their cars on Salem streets, hurled slurs at other people and beat them, according to police reports.
Prosecutors charged 41-year-old William P. Hinton on Thursday, March 30, in Polk County Circuit Court with first-degree bias crime, fourth-degree assault, attempted first-degree bias crime and attempted fourth-degree assault, court records showed.
He is the second person to be charged with a bias crime this month in the Salem area, with both incidents involving apparent road rage.
Hinton’s charges come just over two weeks after a Marion County grand jury indicted Yvon Pasco, 38, on charges of second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, first-degree bias crime, second-degree bias crime and fourth-degree assault.
The Oregon Legislature in 2019 passed a bias crime law, SB 577, renaming the charge previously referred to as intimidation. The law defined the new legal term “bias incidents,” created a hotline for victims to report bias and required police to refer all victims of bias incidents to services, according to the state Department of Justice.
Affidavits from Salem Police Department provided the following account of the recent incidents.
MARCH 7, NORTHEAST SALEM
Pasco is accused of taking a man’s walking stick and striking him with it because of her perception of the man’s sexual orientation. Her attack seriously injured the victim, according to court documents.
Salem police responded at the time to a fight near Parrish Middle School on Northeast Capitol Street, near the Northeast Neighbors area. Two witnesses reported a woman hitting a man with a large stick by the north side of the school.
Pasco, the suspect, told police she was driving on Capitol Street when an SUV followed her, prompting her to change lanes quickly as she tried to get away.
The passenger of the SUV used a wooden walking stick to hit Pasco’s vehicle while she was driving, causing damage.
The roughly 5-foot-tall walking stick “had the weight of a baseball bat and (was) readily capable of causing serious physical injury,” according to the Salem police affidavit.
Pasco turned onto Northeast D Street, where the SUV continued following her. She exited the vehicle and approached the SUV to confront the two men inside when one of them stepped out with the stick.
The passenger told police that he used the walking stick earlier to hit Pasco’s vehicle. The driver reported that he followed Pasco’s vehicle to the school, and when she started to hit his windows, he exited the vehicle and approached her.
Pasco took the stick from the driver and struck him multiple times with it, injuring him. Police noted redness on the victim’s side and back area “in the shape of the long stick,” bruising and redness across his cheek and small scrapes on his knee and forehead, according to the report.
Both men reported that Pasco called them “gay” as well as homophobic slurs while hitting the man with the stick and hitting the vehicle.
Pasco later admitted that she called the men “gay” during the incident, the affidavit said.
Security video from the school also showed Pasco approach the vehicle and start hitting it. She then took the stick from the driver, hit him multiple times, backed away and then hit him again, “using the stick like a baseball bat,” the report said.
Court documents showed Pasco was released Wednesday, March 29, on bail. More court proceedings are scheduled for April 3.
MARCH 30, WEST SALEM
Shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday, Salem police responded to a report of a fight outside Safeway on Northeast Edgewater Street in west Salem.
The victim told police that he was in a minor crash when Hinton exited his vehicle, began screaming and eventually punched the victim multiple times in his head. Police noted redness on the victim’s skin where he said he was punched, and the victim said his ear was ringing.
A second victim reported that Hinton punched him in his eye, where officers also observed swelling.
Two separate witnesses told police that Hinton was the aggressor and threw multiple punches while the victims “simply tried to defend themselves,” according to a Salem police affidavit. One witness reported that he saw Hinton exit his vehicle and start screaming racist slurs such as “F’ing Mexican” while advancing toward one of the men before striking him.
Hinton was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail, where he was being held without bail as of Friday.
Polk County Circuit Judge Timothy Park ordered Hinton to undergo a community mental health consultation. A hearing is scheduled for April 6 to decide whether he is fit to stand trial.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
SUBSCRIBE TO GET SALEM NEWS – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!
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.