California woman who made racist remarks in video faces separate charge

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LOS ANGELES — A woman whose racist, anti-Asian tirades were caught on video last month is facing a warrant for her arrest in connection with a separate confrontation last year.

The Torrance city attorney’s office said 54-year-old Lena Hernandez was charged Thursday in a case of battery related to an October 2019 event, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Police allege Hernandez, a retired social worker from Long Beach, verbally assaulted one person and and struck another at a mall in Torrance.

Police Chief Eve Berg previously said the Long Beach resident was suspected of “brutally assaulting” a custodian and a bystander who tried to help the victim, according to sister station KTLA.

After Hernandez was shown in a series of widely broadcast videos this month, Kayceelyn Salminoa said she recognized Hernandez as the woman who attacked her in a public restroom last October.

“That’s a voice you don’t forget. That’s a face you don’t forget,” Salminoa told KTLA. “Especially what she had done to me.”

Salminoa said she’d come to the defense of a cleaning woman Hernandez was berating when Hernandez attacked her, throwing her to the ground and warning her not to get back up. When she did, Salminoa said Hernandez grabbed her hair, pushed her back down and punched her.

Police say the incident was reported the same day, and a formal crime report was taken three days later. But investigators didn’t present charges until after Hernandez achieved notoriety this month.

Salminoa retweeted one of the viral videos, putting pressure on police. “Nothing came of it,” she said of the police report. “What are you going to do about it NOW?”

Hernandez is scheduled to be heard on the charge at Torrance Superior Court Monday.

Last month at a park in Torrance, a woman later identified as Hernandez was recorded on video using profanity while speaking to a younger woman who was exercising at a set of stairs.

“Go back to whatever … Asian country you belong in,” Hernandez said in the video.

In a second outburst later that day, a video showed Hernandez berating a man in his car with two of his children present and saying, “You know what, you need to go home.”

She used profanity, threatened to kill the man and referred to him as a “Chinaman.” She complained his vehicle was parked too close to her Honda.

Video clips of both encounters were posted on Twitter.

Torrance officials said the city attorney reviewed the police investigations and concluded there was insufficient evidence to support filing criminal charges against Hernandez for her comments.

The department said it was difficult to establish probable cause due to “critical gaps in the evidence regarding how each incident unfolded that result in the lack of necessary certainty required to initiate criminal prosecution against any suspect.”

“It is a prosecutor’s solemn duty to analyze a case based on the evidence and triability and not based on politics or public sentiment unrelated to the likelihood of prevailing before a jury,” the department said in a statement.

Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey said the scene he saw on social media was “nauseating to absolutely anybody in our community.”

The population of the city, where 80 languages are spoken, is between 30% and 40% Asian or Pacific Islander, Furey said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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