San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan discusses dedication to fighting all hate crimes

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced that a 23-year-old man has been sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to felony vandalism, a misdemeanor hate crime, and an unrelated felony assault charge.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Harry Elias handed down the sentence, which was previously stipulated when the defendant, Steve Soto, pleaded guilty on August 28.

During a Black Lives Matter protest in early June, Soto drove by an Oceanside café with a BLM and black-owned sign posted and shot out the front window of the business with a BB gun. “We want the public to know that we will fight hate in all its forms,” DA Summer Stephan said. “Hate crimes impact the entire community and erode our right to equality and fairness.”

Earlier this year, the District Attorney’s Office set up a new online form and hotline where the public can report suspected hate crime they’ve witnessed in San Diego County. The tool is partly in response to reports of hate-related incidents aimed at the Asian community across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the arrest of a 66-year old man in San Diego, who physically attacked a man he perceived to be Chinese-American.

“We know that people often don’t report hate crimes because of fear or shame, and we wanted to provide a direct avenue to encourage victims or witnesses to hate crimes to report,” DA Stephan said. “People can and should continue to report hate crimes to their local police departments and Sheriff’s Department. This additional reporting mechanism will act as a safety net and help ensure reports are reviewed and shared by law enforcement.”

San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan discusses this specific case, and all the work she has done to make sure there people who commit hate crimes are appropriately charged.

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