A white couple accused of a racist attack on a Black hotel worker in Mystic last month has been arrested in New York, Stonington police said.
The U.S. Marshals Service and the New York Police Department took Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay into custody in Brooklyn, N.Y. early Monday, they said. They will be in custody on fugitive from justice charges until they are extradited to Connecticut, where they will be charged with assault.
“I am rejoicing and I’m praising the Lord right now,” said the front desk clerk, Crystal Caldwell, when reached by phone Monday morning. “I’m praising the Lord. Overwhelmed.”
Her lawyer, M. John Strafaci, said, “We are absolutely thrilled that the U.S. Marshals picked them up and arrested them.” Sarner is “someone that just doesn’t belong out in a civilized society,” he added. “He belongs behind bars.”
Sarner will be charged with second-degree assault, third-degree assault and intimidation based on bigotry and bias. Orbay will be charged with two counts of third-degree assault and one count of intimidation based on bigotry and bias, police said. Both the second-degree assault and the intimidation charges are Class D felonies, which are punishable by 1-5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Stonington police said Friday that they had obtained the warrants for the arrests and were working with authorities in New York and the FBI to take the couple into custody.
Sarner and Orbay are accused of beating Caldwell, 59, on June 26 at the Quality Inn hotel in the Mystic section of Stonington. The two-part assault was captured on surveillance video.
Caldwell told the Courant the first attack happened about 11 a.m. June 26, shortly after Sarner called the front desk to complain there was no hot water. She said he became belligerent and threatened to send his girlfriend down to the desk to beat Caldwell.
The couple did eventually head toward the front desk, stopping to talk to two employees. When they spotted Caldwell, they pushed past the two workers to assault her, she said, calling her a monkey.
They later attacked her again when she went to get ice for her injuries, Caldwell said.
She suffered a concussion and injuries to an eye, her face, a wrist, a knee and her back. She said the couple punched and stomped her. She and her alleged attackers were taken to area hospitals to be treated for their injuries.
Police were criticized for not immediately arresting the couple, but Capt. Todd Olson said officers tried to but were prevented from getting to the pair by hospital staff, who cited COVID-19 restrictions.Stonington police apply for arrest warrants in alleged racist attack on Black hotel worker in Mystic.
Officers intended to arrest the two when they returned to the hotel to retrieve their belongings. But they later learned the two had taken a ride-hailing service from the hospital to the hotel, got in their car and immediately left. They had packed up the car earlier, police said.
At the request of Police Chief Darren Stewart, the town of Stonington has retained an independent investigator to review the police department’s handling of the assault, First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough announced Friday in a Facebook post.
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