Hate Crime Goes to Internal Affairs

In his outstretched palm, Atul Lall holds a molar, a wisdom tooth and four fragments of teeth that broke free when a tequila bottle encountered his jaw. 

Three days before last Thanksgiving, the 32-year-old San Jose native was driving away from the Lucky’s grocery store on South White Road in east San Jose. As he pulled his car out of the lot, Lall says that three men, without apparent reason, ripped him from the driver’s seat and beat him while dousing him with liquor. They called him a terrorist.

Aside from the teeth he lost, Lall, who is Indian, also suffered a gash under his chin and a broken jaw. While it happened, people in the store parking lot apparently went about their business, ignoring the attack as if it was a typical instance of valet service turned violent.

Almost three months since the incident, the second-to-last of San Jose’s 32 hate crimes reported last year has sparked two separate police investigations. The first continues to search for the three men suspected of beating Lall.  The other, sources confirmed, is being conducted by Internal Affairs, the police department’s watchdog, which is looking into claims that investigators bungled the case and blamed the city’s budget problems for their inability to find the culprits.

In a move that Lall describes as “damage control,” police held a press conference last week to release a sketch of one of the suspects and ask for the public’s help in finding his attackers.

Eleven weeks had gone by since the attack and Lall, with the help of the South Asian Bar Association, had successfully pushed the department to make the sketch go viral. But police were caught off-guard when Lall went on the attack at the press event, slamming the department for the way it handled the case.

“It’s kind of obvious they know they screwed up, but they’re the cops, and they’re never going to admit it,” Lall says, now sitting in his home at the base of the foothills, a week after the press conference.

Surrounded by his girlfriend, a Chihuahua named Leo and an extensive collection of video-game consoles and DVDs, the only evidence of anything combative in his nature is Lall’s PS3. Above the couch is a picture of Lall and the Mt. Pleasant High School mock trial team, class of 1997. His jaw shifts a little to the side due to the multiple surgeries he’s had as a result of the attack, which included having two titanium plates bolted into his face.

“If they can do this to me,” Lall says, as if conjuring up the police as well as his attackers in the same breath, “how many other people do they do this to?”

According to a log of activity provided by police, there are two sides to the question of who has been less cooperative in the investigation.
In the police account, on multiple occasions, Lall took days to respond to messages from detectives seeking information and also missed or was late to meetings with a sketch artist.

With no one’s assistance at the scene of the crime, Lall also made investigators’ jobs more difficult by driving a safe distance from the store before calling police and having his parents meet him at home to take him to the emergency room. The initial police report says an officer was unable to locate the crime scene in the shopping plaza.

Careful not to criticize the victim, police have had to bite their tongues.

According to the police report and log of contact, though, questions arise about how timely and thorough the investigation has been handled.

From the start of the investigation until the press conference, Lall says, police have repeatedly misstated the number of assailants as two rather than three. Investigators also didn’t attempt to retrieve video surveillance of the incident from the grocery store until nine days after the attack.

Most confounding of all, a search was never conducted of Lall’s car. Lall himself discovered the tequila bottle, wedged in the backseat of his Honda, almost three weeks after the incident. Two months have passed, and the lab has yet to send back fingerprints or any DNA evidence retrieved from the bottle.

“I said, ‘My car is the scene of the crime. Don’t you want to look for evidence?” Lall recalls. “And the cop is like, ‘Nah, we already looked for everything.’ Several weeks, later we found the bottle of tequila in my car.”

“I wasn’t there, you weren’t there,” says Police Chief Chris Moore. “Clearly, if we didn’t collect evidence the way we’re supposed to collect evidence, that’s on us. ... Are we perfect? No one’s perfect. At the same time, we have a very serious investigation.”

What the police log excludes is how many times Lall attempted to reach the lead detective on the case, Michael Villanueva, as well as the curious fact that the incident wasn’t listed as a hate crime from the start.

Lall says he lost count of how many times he called police for details on how the case was progressing, and says that Villanueva and other department officials answering phones sounded apathetic.  “After talking to the detective, it was like ‘budget cuts, budget cuts, thank your mayor,’” Lall says. “It was almost like he was saying, ‘You’re alive, just be thankful for that.’”

The police chief says that Lall’s allegation of officers blaming the city’s budget cutbacks for their work, if true, is unacceptable.

“This is not appropriate for our personnel to be blaming the mayor and city council for our professional conduct—period,” says Moore. “Our officers have been told that is not an appropriate response and that message is going out loud and clear to our organization.”

City Councilmember Rose Herrera, who represents the Evergreen district, says she has the utmost respect for law enforcement but has heard similar complaints from residents about police blaming bureaucracy. When she arranged a meeting with Lall after reading about the attack—another police oversight because councilmembers should be notified of hate crimes in their district—she says she was shocked at how upset he was.

I expected him to tell me about the crime, and I wanted to reassure him and put him in touch with the proper resources,” says Herrera, who is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects. “It turned out it was a really good thing I talked to [Independent Police Auditor] LaDoris Cordell beforehand, because I ended up calling her and telling her what he said. Over half his concerns were about the process the police used.”

Lall says he called Cordell’s office three weeks ago and filed a formal complaint, which he thinks may have led to the press conference. The Independent Police Auditor’s job is to forward complaints to IA and then review the unit’s findings.

Neither Cordell nor Sgt. Todd Trayer, who helps oversee the IA unit, say they can confirm an investigation is underway because of privacy and personnel concerns, but Weger says the turnaround from the IPA’s office receiving a complaint to starting investigation by his department usually takes just several days, meaning Lall’s file should be in the IA pipeline.

If recent history is any indicator of what an IA investigation will yield, the unit is unlikely to find fault with police. Internal Affairs closed 19 neglect of duty investigations in 2010, and not a single allegation was sustained. Cordell says, “There has been a dramatic change at IA,” and she credits Moore for reaching out to the division to bring about a better relationship between the three branches.

And yet there are still differences of opinion among the chief, Cordell and IA when it comes to how hard the office should police its own. In 2010, Cordell’s office agreed with Internal Affairs first-time findings 79 percent of the time. But given a second chance to follow up, the IPA still disagreed with the department’s internal watchdogs 11 percent of the time.

“Its the hardest job of all police jobs because you have to sit and judge your fellow officers,” Cordell admits. “But if you don’t have integrity in your police department, you might as well hang it up and go home because you will have chaos in the streets.”

Already, the clock is ticking on Lall’s complaint. Based on the Police Officers Bill of Rights, an officer usually cannot be disciplined a year after IA begins its investigation. In 2010, there were 49 incidents that took more than 300 days to investigate, which gives the IPA barely any time to follow up. One IA investigation in the IPA’s 2010 report spanned more than three years. Cordell says the 2011 audit of IA won’t be ready until April, but the number of complaints increased by 20 percent compared to a year prior.

Add in the fact that IA will experience turnover in its leadership within about a month, and the opportunity for some cases to slip through the cracks increases.
“Certainly, it’s a concern we raised in 2010 and we’ll raise it again in 2011,” Cordell says. “I don’t think they’re turning a blind eye. That being said, the rules are the rules, and the cases need to be closed out in a timely manner.”

To help Atul Lall with his medical and dental expenses, those wishing to donate money can contact Wells Fargo bank and ask about the Atul Lall Fund or contact San Jose City Councilwoman Rose Herrera’s office at 408.535.4908.

Correction: A previous version of this article had the incorrect name for Sgt. Todd Trayer. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. The investigations unit has been devastated by budget cuts – that is the brutal honestly of the situation. You have investigators with case loads that are double or triple what they should be. The best investigators can do is triage cases, much as a MASH doctor would do in a warfront surgery tent. It is insane to think they can continue to keep putting more and more time into cases with less and less resources, despite the outcries of out of touch politicians and the IPA. The city council, mayor, and city manager need to look in the mirror and who is to blame for devestating this police department. We have 400 less officers now than a few years ago – did they really think we could keep doing more with less? No wonder officers are fleeing this department in droves and as fast as they can.

    • Truth! you want to be mad at somebody or hold someone accountable That *&%%$$^&&&‘s Name is Chuck Reed! it is he who decimated both Police And Fire by selling “fiscal Crisis to the masses”. This city is sitting on 2.5 Billion dollars in reserve. He lied about the 650 million dollar pension cost ( true amount is less than 290 million) He lied about measure V& W , saying if passed it would allow him to hire even more Police Officers ( and then 150 officers & 50 firefighters were let go) most of witch refused to come back to San Jose! It is not unbelievable to think he has lied about “the stadium deal ” ,the deal to actually bring the A’s to town , the real estate being bought up and sold to Reeds Developer buddies , Im just wondering how many more lies or half truths we will discover in the coming months. he is willing to take all glory for accomplishments that he had nothing to do with (gang task force, was he out patroling? doubt it!) but will never accept blame for his sheer arrogance and lack of leadership. all city employees are doing the best they can with what they have ……….unfortunately they dont have the support of Mayor, Council,City Manager, or residents.

      • Get you facts right before you publish.  Josh getting very disappointed in you.  Sgt vs LT in IA.  Facts of the case!  You are starting to sound like PO, and Sean Webby! Come on, we deserve better!

        Are you applying to the MERCKY NEWS?

    • “The investigations unit has been devastated by budget cuts – that is the brutal honestly of the situation. You have investigators with case loads that are double or triple what they should be.”

      So, you’re saying that police caseloads used to be at acceptable levels, but now, due to budget cuts, those same caseloads have doubled, or even tripled?

      If that were true, then the SJPD budget would have been presumably cut by something likely in excess of fifty percent!  Your assertions don’t seem to add up.

      • I will slow down so maybe you can understand this; the investigative units have been drained to patch up open patrol spots. For instance, there use to be a 10 person team that investigated auto thefts, and did a damn good job. This unit has been cut to 2 people. You can multiply this by all the other investigative units and you get the picture of why the case loads are astronomical. Not rocket science, Kevin.

        • Kevin, to add to Less with Less’ explanation, you should have some slight understanding of the structure in patrol. Each division has roughly four districts, and each district has roughly five beats (a few have 6). With each district having a Sergeant, and one officer covering each beat, that’s approximately 24 police officers per division, per shift, for minimal coverage. Would you feel safe if some districts go out with less than half the needed coverage during the day? Well, it happens regularly and you can thank the lack of any new hiring for a strong portion of this. Do you think the majority of the people retiring are patrol? Of course not! Do you think the many Officers leaving for greener pastures are rookies who would normally spend years in patrol? Of course not. So what you end up with, are holes in patrol, being filled by members of the department who haven’t been in patrol for some time. Coupled with low morale based upon the current sentiments about public service and the fact that some of them have to leave their desk jobs to go get in physical fights and deal with the best members of our society, things just don’t get accomplished like they used to.

        • The only relevant number is the before and after numbers of the investigative unit that investigates these type of violent crimes.

          The fact that the auto theft unit has been cut 80% is meaningless in this debate about violent crime investigations.

        • JMO do you really think that in the detective bureau it is like the cops shows you see on TV where a pursuit comes to a screaming halt at the county line because they don’t dare exit their jurisdiction?  Bodies are shuffled all over the Bureau of Investigations to accommodate the rise and fall of different crimes.  The auto theft unit doesn’t hunker down in their office with sand bags piled up in a bunker mentality staving off the assault unit personnel who are trying to breech the fortress to ask for help.

          People are routinely transferred or moved temporarily to assist with other assignments.  And, the post used it as an example.  Every unit in the Bureau of Investigations has been impacted by staffing cuts.  Patrol is the first line of defense and many detectives from all of the units have been sent back to work the streets.

        • First, I haven’t had a TV in 11 years.

          Second, why did you quote a number for a particular bureau if everything shifts, as you say?

          Third, The only relevant number is STILL the before and after numbers of the folks who investigate these types of crimes, whether it is static or changing.

          You obviously have an axe to grind, as apparently other folks in the dept. have.  Whining doesn’t cut it.

        • “I will slow down so maybe you can understand this; the investigative units have been drained to patch up open patrol spots.”

          That implies you actually said that previously, and/or an assumption to that effect would have been obvious on my part, but I can assure you that neither is actually the case.  I remember when I was a teenager, I used to be rude to anyone who questioned my arrogant pronouncements, too.

        • Because you don’t want to get it.  The staffing cuts have been across the board in nearly every unit.  Even when they shift people, it is a temporary band aid because the unit the came from now goes short.  The bottom line, which I guess you don’t want to accept, is that you are getting less because there is less.

      • The agency never had the investigative staffing for a city its size. Every unit has been overwhelmed with cases for years despite pleas to increase staffing. For instance the Fraud unit was staffed with 10 investigators, despite a city with a million people and 12000 reported theft cases a year. Then Chief Moore slashed this number to 5. Burglary was slashed in half to 4. How can any city with this population, a good chunk of Silicon Valley, only have this few detectives? This has occurred in all investigative units, yet somehow the Chief still has someone to drive him around. That person should be doing police work, not running errands and answering the phone for the Chief. The agency has been understaffed and mismanaged for years.

        Now some semi-cooperative victim is demanding his case rise to the top of the pile on the desk of an overworked detective. This same detective is now going to face an internal investigation because the IPA and activists will be demanding blood.

        The person who should be held accountable is Chief Moore and the policies implemented by his predecessor. Both of them are academics, who have never been involved in the nuts and bolts of police work. I seriously doubt that Chief Moore would be capable of conducting this investigation but now the officer will be sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

    • With the way the story was written, there seems to be conflicting statements. Why didn’t he call police then and there? And a Mercury News article I pulled up from 12/1 said three or four suspects, not two like the victim claims the police have misstated.  I was not there for the crime, or to watch over the police officers’ shoulders while they did the investigation, just pointing out two things I thought were odd in the article.

      • He was probably in a terrified state of mind and fled for fear that his attackers would return. I don’t think he can be blamed for that, and I don’t think the police are entirely to blame, but they should have searched his truck.

        I’m glad Herrera contacted him, but I disagree with her stance on pension reform, and I hope that this doesn’t get spun into a small PR victory for pension reform because one of the cops blamed Mayor Reed. That being said, as someone who supports public safety, I think it’s our duty to hold the police accountable when they make mistakes, and I hope the IA investigation makes a fair decision after they weigh the facts.

    • LaDoris Cordell is absolutely worthless. We pay her almost 200k for what? SJPD’s IA is also worthless, but required. I have lived in San Jose for 30 years and have never been harassed or disrespected by the police. I am a law abiding citizen, and have only been contacted by SJPD once over the 30 years for a traffic ticket – which, I must admit, that I deserved. These people who are all up in arms are probably low-lifes who do not contribute to society. Geez people, if you’re a normal citizen, don’t you get tired of this??? Let the cops do their job….

    • He indeed should have stayed at the scene.  But in fairness, its unlikely that would have made the difference here.  The reality is that in these cases, the police don’t generally go out in search of Sherlock Holmesian “clues,” but rather rely on blabber-mouthed morons to inadvertently spread the word about the unlawful antics of their associates, or upon the good offices of an informant.  If criminals have enough brains to rapidly exit the scene, and to keep their mouths shut, then they are likely to escape detection.

  2. I don’t understand why the County’s Network For A Hate Free Community wasn’t contacted. Their number is 408-792-2304. They work with the PD, and the DA’s Office on Hate Crimes.

    Secondly, we are lacking Police response due to budget cuts,so why is it wrong to say that? The City has cut a lot of Police Officers and don’t respond to ALL calls for assistance like they used too.

    • Kathleen, I admire your faith in the Network but, in fact, the concept of hate crime is a carefully nuanced matter and governed in reality by standards differing from the statutory standard which is that a crime must have been committed and that the criminal had as at least one motive in committing the crime an element of hatred toward the group (or perceived group) in which the victim of the crime was a member.

      I’ve followed this closely in Santa Clara County since calendar year 1991 (the first year statistics were collected and reported about hate crimes), and it appears that hate crime statistics are collected and prosecuted only when they provide an approved propaganda lesson (or morality tale) for residents about who does hate crimes and who is victimized by hate crimes.

      In the case before us, there is a serious problem for law enforcement and prosecutors in that it features the “wrong” kind of victim and the “wrong” kind of criminal. 

      I know this is not preached openly at the Network or by the DA or the SJPD, but it is an inflexible rule that is causing great suffering by Mr. Lall in the current case.

      • This is a disgraceful event, and I very much hope that the miscreants are caught, and that very strong sentences are imposed…but its also true that Mr. Warner does have rather a point here ie., that a “hate crime” is when a person who isn’t White (or straight) is attacked on that basis.  The establishment doesn’t give a damn if some person of European-American extraction gets his ass kicked into the ground, because he’s “a White boy.”  That’s dog-bites-man, and the political (and media) establishment simply does not care.  It may be in poor taste for Mr. Warner to take this opportunity to point out such a thing, but the truth is what it is, alas.

    • Regarding the network, I know that the Network for a Hate-Free Community divides the world of hate into (a) hate crimes and (b) hateful or disgusting speech, less than a crime, but demeaning, divisive, and dehumanizing. 

      If you are active on the network, could you tell us what they did when the Mercury News last year referred to the Governor of Texas as a “big ape” or when the Merc referred to Herman Cain this year as a “clown.”  Both labels are calculated to render these men less than human and are clearly motivated by hate. 

      What did the network do with the Mercury News to educate it about avoiding hate speech?

  3. The reason complaints are up 20% is because Cordell goes to people and has them make complaints. She cannot be involved unless the complaint comes through her door or is serious in nature. Also, neither she nor her staff are educated in police procedures and they do not desire to be. Yet they sit in judgement of policies and procedures. Anybody else see how obvious that solution is? Send them to training.  Maybe Cordell should go ride along with an officer for forty hours (but not tell anybody who she is) and see what it’s really like. Watching tv or reading a book is nothing like really being there.

    • So she is trying to justify her job by bringing in complaints? Wow, she’s a walking waist of taxpayer monies! And she gets a PERS pension from being a judge too! Thats just as scandalous as the cops that work for another department after they retire! Actually, I think she is more worthless than the cops! At least they arrest crooks sometimes…

    • Cordell has never gone on a ride along despite numerous requests by Internal Affairs to do so. Either she is a coward or the more likely scenario is that she doesn’t want have to face the ugly facts that people of color are misbehaving in San Jose.

  4. In a city of about a million people crimes like this are taking place nearly daily.  The police department has been cut to the bone and cannot investigate every crime as quickly and as thoroughly as the citizens would prefer.  However, for those that raise their hands and attach the term “hate crime” to the event, the police are supposed to drop everything and spend all their valuable but limited resources on that one crime until the complainant is completely satisfied?

    What about the Hispanic person who is attacked and the person does not yell anything about race, but perhaps about alleged gang affiliation, even if not true?  What about the black person who is beaten just as severely but the attacker wears a mask and nothing racial is said?  How about the gay person who is brutally assaulted but again, no evidence that the motivation might have been based upon their sexual preference, even though it actually was? 

    I am also curious as to which ethnicity a “terrorist” automatically belongs to? Are all “terrorists” automatically middle-eastern, or look that way? The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines hate crime (also known as bias crime) as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.”

    So, we assume the attackers assumed he was middle-eastern?  I think that is quite possible but not absolute and I also think it is a bit different than somebody attacking a person while shouting specific racial epithets, making derogatory comments about a person’s religion or their sexual identity. These idiot attackers didn’t even understand the difference between Lall and the most likely target of their hatred.  Yet, the police are supposed to treat this victim differently for two reasons.  First, that they claim the status of “hate crime” victim.  Second, that they are the squeaky wheel. 

    What happened to Lall is very unfortunate and needs to be resolved if posible.  However, the message here seems to be that those that make the biggest stink, make allegations of discrimination by the police and the criminal justice system, and who have the ear of the media will receive better service, more sympathy, and swifter justice.  I just wonder how many other victims will be cast aside so that the media cause du jour can be addressed. I wonder if a lawsuit might also be forthcoming.  If you are going to build a fire, you have to build a woodpile first.

    It is also appalling that the article would suggest that the police department needs to conduct a speedy investigation that finds fault with the overworked officers for not solving the crime immediately to satisfy the victim and their adopted spokespeople in the media.  Not every crime is solvable even with massive amounts of manpower.  And, Cordell is inaccurate by suggesting that “the rules are the rules” when there is no specific rule on defining when a case is to be concluded.  Homicide cases remain open forever when they are unsolved.  An assault case may or may not be closed due to a lack of leads or insufficient manpower. To presume fault by the investigator solely based upon the inability to wrap up the case in 30 min. a la CSI or some other crime drama is absurd. Each case is handled on its merits. But it seems those merits now include political pressure, media sniveling and a victim that is quickly learning how to get special attention.

  5. Chief Moore gutted investigations to staff patrol. The investigator was correct in this regard. Patrol officers who responded to the scene, couldn’t locate the victim or the crime scene. The victim provided poor details as to the location for the patrol officer. The victim’s behavior bears a good portion of the blame. Investigators who have huge case loads don’t have the time to repeatedly attempt to track down victims for interviews or followup. Atul couldn’t be responsible enough to return phone calls or even show up at his scheduled appointment with the police artist. If the victims doesn’t want to cooperate, then the case either gets closed or relegated to the bottom of the pile. Atul is being a hypocrite for blaming the police for the inaction when much of that responsibility appears to be linked to his own actions.

    • Investigators at SJPD have anywhere from 30-50 open cases or more sitting on their desk that they are supposed to work.  If they make a phone call to a victim and it goes unanswered, they turn to the next case and then the next.  There are always plenty of tasks waiting to be accomplished for each case.  The detective doesn’t place that one case on his desk and ignore all the rest just because somebody is whining to the media.  Where would the justice be for all the other victim’s that are contained within those other cases?  Lall deserves good service but not at the expense of other crime victims.

    • As much as police departments would like to share information about some of their victims behaviors, it will never happen. Every detective can tell you dozens of stories about how their “victim” placed themselves in a position to be victimized, how they are uncooperative with the investigator and how they cry fowl when they don’t have the case resolved showing them to be blameless.  In some cases people claim to be victims of crime just to have access to resources they would not normally get such as money, housing, legal advice, etc. 

      Detectives are trained to keep a log of activity but there has never been an emphasis on documenting when a victim is culpable for their situation.  And, it would not be PC for any agency to publicly criticize any victim so they don’t.  Therefore the detective keeps their opinions to themselves and just moves on to other cases where there is a better victim.  The SJPD isn’t ever going to publicly outline why Lall’s investigation didn’t satisfy him so it leaves the story one-sided.  Those that don’t like the police to begin with will find Lall’s story upholds their preconceived biases with nothing to refute them.

      • Hello?  Broken Jaw here.

        I’m defending both sides here.  Cops?  Yah.. I understand, you’re understaffed.  I get it, there isn’t much evidence.  It’s a damn near impossible case to solve without more to go on.

        I don’t know if this helps both sides, but this Sunday I’m going to distribute wanted posters around Evergreen.  I’ve also asked in places to see if I can get people to pledge to the reward pot. 

        I’d like some “backup” if anyone is listening.  Cops or a Punjabi Swordfighting team would be awesome.

        • I’m with Robert on this. The victim made some mistakes, but so did the police. That being said, I’m guessing this is the sort of thing that happens when you lay off a large number of officers, and the police aren’t entirely to blame for their lack of resources. Although I sympathize with the victim, and I applaud Mr. Cortese for his efforts to find the perpetrators, to me, this article appears to try to paint a bad image of SJPD. It discusses Herrerra’s meeting with the victim, but not Ash Kalra’s. The former supports Reed’s severe pension reform, the latter opposes it.

        • Dakota why don’t you join us on Sunday?  I’ve managed to get a few volunteers off reddit, and a few people from my facebook.


          We’re going to meet at the McDonalds on the corner of White and Aborn at 1pm Sunday.  Also, I could use some help translating if you happen to know some bi-lingual folks.

          I’m waiting on Ash to see if we can put these up on utility poles without legal ramifications.  Even if the answer is no, still won’t stop us from asking shop owners to put up the wanted posters, handing them out door to door, or just handing them to people as they walk out of Lucky’s.

        • Just got word from Chief Moore’s office. 

          Mr. Cortese,

          You are welcome to help out the SJPD.


          Sergeant Gina Tibaldi #3798
          Chief’s Adjutant
          Office of the Chief of Police
          201 W. Mission Street
          San Jose, Ca 95110

          So we’re good to go on Sunday as far as I’m concerned.


        • So after a full day of posting wanted posters, I’m happy. Nobody showed up, but it was fairly short notice, I’m planning on going out again next Sunday so maybe with a weeks warning folks might be able to get their calanders cleared.

          Mostly it was a fairly benign day. I talked a few local businesses into putting the wanted posters in their windows. A lot of time was spent answering questions. I think my biggest thrill was actually watching people stop and read the posters. I know it was effective.

          Somewhere around White and Quimby I got a little scared. There were guys thugging out everywhere, giving me some really nasty looks. I didn’t let my fear own me though.

          I’d walk straight up to them with a pile of posters in hand, “The San Jose Police would like help in finding this suspect, it’s a $1000 in your pocket if you can help them find him”

          I found doing that made most of the thugs back down really fast, sans one group.

          There was 3 fat thugs with a skinny friend. One of them said to me, “WHO GIVES A FUCK?”

          I told him this is how we do things in San Jose, people should be free to live here without fear of getting beat up. I told him it’s fine that he doesn’t care, but if he’s going to impede my movement, I’ll have to call the police.

          “I AINT STOPPING YOU!” he said as he stepped aside. His group just glared at me as I finished putting up posters around the intersection at Quimby and White.

          I’d like to thank the following helping out today. Ash Kalra’s office for checking to see if this was OK. Chief Moore’s office for giving me the go ahead. Metro for bringing this to my attention. Businesses that let me put posters in their windows and on their properties, including Marsala’s groceries, Round Table Pizza, 76 Gas, EZ Market, Ernies Liquors, Pizza My Heart, Pulvy Botique, and Kinko’s Blossom hill for providing free prints.

          Finally, here’s a map of the area I covered today. I plan on doing more next week, same time.


    • Bill,

      When I got attacked a few months ago, I was very fortunate to have friends around to protect me.  I had no problem not just staying on the scene, but providing more than accurate information and evidence to catch my little mermaid.

      Atul didn’t have backup, was beaten much worse than I was, and likely didn’t have the experience I have being beaten (meaning, he was probably really disoriented)

      Given that he’s had titanium plates installed, multiple teeth knocked out, he was probably in a ton of pain after the incident.

      I understand you guys are busy, I understand you’re staffed to the lowest cop/population ratios ever, and I understand that it’s critical to get you guys the information you need to catch the bad guys in a timely manner.  Cases get cold with time.  Just a fact.

      Still, you have to have some sympathy for this guy.  Maybe going to Cordell is a slap in the face, but based on the broken jaw, I think it’s fair to say he wasn’t even in a condition to talk to a sketch artist, or provide accurate 911 details.

  6. “To help Atul Lall with his medical and dental expenses, those wishing to donate money…”

    As much as I would like to sympathize with Lall, I can’t help but wonder if some of his frustration and anger being directed towards the police stem from the financial impact on his life.  If the police or the city can be sued, that solves some of his problems, especially if an attorney takes it contingent.  Or, if those reading this article send him money, he gets paid for media interview, or becomes the beneficiary of funds from non-profit or victims rights organizations.  He may actually be well deserving of some of it, but when you sue the city, that is my tax dollars that are used to defend that suit and write him a check.  I’d like to believe it is justified first, and not from some biased media report.

  7. Feel bad for the guy, but these type of crimes happen everyday. A couple of Friday’s ago their were 9 stabbings in one day. No one yelled, the media did not run story and mayor Reed came out in his state of the city address and violent crime is down.

    When you take away 350 officer position’s, from investigators, beat cop’s, VCET officer’s, your chances of solving the crime go down. The mercury news, the metro and IBM can spin it the way they want, but if you don’t have boot’s on the ground, nothing will get solved.

    Like I’ve stated before, if you don’t have a good police department, you have nothing.

  8. The police report has the victim describing, in order of occurrence, these acts:

    1. “Why you staring at my boy? asks the suspect who opened the victim’s door.
    2. A second male began punching the victim in the face… strikes victim with tequila bottle.
    3. Victim called “terrorist” and doused with tequila.

    The first verbalized indication of a motive—a male stare down, has nothing to do with a hate crime, nor does the first assaultive act (punching), or the second (tequila bottle). Only after the most serious blows are struck is there anything said that might be related to a hate motive (“terrorist”).

    Question: Would a reasonable man conclude, as required by law, that this assault was committed BECAUSE of the victim’s actual or perceived ethnic characteristics?
    Answer: Only if that reasonable man had been brainwashed by the Thought Police, doesn’t understand the definition of “motive,” or is politically cowed, as is the police chief, into accepting “hate” as whatever an ethnic group says it is.

    Stare down assaults are everyday occurrences, especially in locations frequented by morons. Same with gang type assaults. This was a thug crime, not a hate crime.

    Branding this a hate crime serves agendas, not accuracy. That the victim was called a terrorist is no more significant than had he been called a punk or mother-f-er—both terms that, in some corners, have explicit sexual connotations. Besides, the word “terrorist” has been neutralized; as we’ve been told ad nauseam, terrorists come in so many varieties that the TSA—an official arm of the government, has demonstrated that even nuns are not above suspicion.

    • “The police report has the victim describing, in order of occurrence, these acts:

      1. “Why you staring at my boy? asks the suspect who opened the victim’s door.
      2. A second male began punching the victim in the face… strikes victim with tequila bottle.
      3. Victim called “terrorist” and doused with tequila.

      The first verbalized indication of a motive—a male stare down, has nothing to do with a hate crime, nor does the first assaultive act (punching), or the second (tequila bottle). Only after the most serious blows are struck is there anything said that might be related to a hate motive (“terrorist”).”

      Whatever – if some some punk thinks he has a right to lead a group of his buddies in kicking someone’s ass over some non-verbal staring behavior, then I want that guy & his associates in jail too.  We’re living in a society here, you know.  Its not OK to beat people up merely because you can make some quasi-plausible claim that it wasn’t a “hate crime.”  Personally, I wish all laws pertaining to so-called “hate crimes” would be repealed.  But the group of guys who beat this Middle Eastern man, to the point of breaking his jaw and knocking out several of his teeth, for no relevant reason (staring doesn’t count), ought to be jailed (or perhaps imprisoned) for their disgusting behavior.  No First-Amendment-questionable “hate crimes” statute should be required in order to achieve such a worthy goal.

  9. The victim (Lall) and the police made missteps in this investigation.

    We all feel for victims of violent crimes and the emotional damage it can bring. However if a victim wishes swift justice he/she must be equally swift in providing details and cooperation to investigators. One must summon the courage and put aside feelings of victimization, physical discomfort and do what they can and quickly.

    If the victim and witnesses lag, it doesn’t matter how well funded the department is human beings aren’t psychics.

    That being said the police not checking the store tape until 9 days after is a bad misstep. When I worked in a grocery store patrol officers would check store and plaza video for a shoplifting attempt before making an arrest. I can’t believe a physical battery of this magnitude didn’t have the tapes checked immediately by the unis that responded or at least getting a copy on the spot. (maybe the victim was unclear that the crime occurred in the plaza?? But I find this hard to believe even if he drove away)

    Not checking the back of the vehicle 3 weeks after the incident is not good as well, but that is a bit unclear in terms of when the victim stated the vehicle was part of the crime scene.

  10. First let’s fill in some of the expansive gaps in either Josh’s reporting and/or in Atul’s account here.

    First, Atul alleges this crime occurred sometime between 8:30-9:30PM.  Josh opines that Atul used good judgement to drive to a safe location (home i guess) where his parents took him to the hospital. What isn’t reported is the fact that the first the time th epolice are notified of this alledged crime is just before midnight and they learn of it from a nurse (who is mandated by law to call the police)  at a hospital in SANTA CLARA 2.5-3 hours later!

    Isn’t it strikingly ODD that niether Atul nor his family – the people who now are demanding the police be held to account for their actions or lack thereof – NEVER TOOK THE SIMPLIST ACTION OF CALLING THE POLICE THEMSELVES???  Not very victim-like is it?

    Second, Atul finds a Tequila bottle in his car weeks later… great, one has to believe that there is/was also significant blood from the cut to Atul’s chin inside the car which proves more than finding the bottle. It proves at least that Atul was in his car after he received his injury. What I question is: did Atul really drive from the scene to his safehaven with such a significant injury? and if he did where was the wisdom in it – being in such pain after such a traumatic event (I think) would result in some seriously “distracted” and unsafe driving – i mean what if he lost consciousness while driving to his safehaven? 

    but lets forget all that and focus on what Josh, Atul, Rose Herrera and the IPA think is the issue here – that Atul is the victim of a HATE CRIME.

    The crime report that Josh links to has Atul saying that one of his attackers called him a “terrorist.”

    I don’t know whether or not Josh , Atul or Herrera are laywers or if they have enough training in the law to know what elements are necessary to establish what crimes did or didn’t occur. I do know that the IPA is a lawyer and was a JUDGE and that Chief Moore is also a lawyer so it is safe to say that they must have expert level knowledge in this area!

    They must know that for a crime to be a HATE CRIME it has to occur as a result of the suspect committing the crime specifically because the victim is of a REAL OR PERCEIVED:  RACE, SKIN COLOR, ANCESTRY, NATIONALITY, AGE, RELIGION,  GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION or HANDICAP/DISABILITY.

    Being called a “TERRORIST” whether the victim is one or not or whether the suspect commits a crime because he perceives the victim to be a “TERRORIST” does NOT make the crime a HATE CRIME.

    TERRORISTS are not “protected classes” nor should they be.  If they were then every AMERICAN who has the novelty “Terrorist Hunting Permit” sticker on their jacked-up 4×4 is potentially subject to arrest…

    This is ridiculous and the cops are right that their time is being wasted. They are absolutley right to let the public know that Mayor Reed’s $650mil lie resulted in layoffs and limited staff availible to investigate real crime. Reed lied to the public to gain the support he needed to pass Measures V & W and he lied to us again to get HIS version of pension reform on the ballot. Once a liar always a liar – why don’t you look into Reed’s lies Josh?

    • I agree with a lot of things you said, but I do think this was a hate crime. “Terrorist” has become a racial slur in America for middle easterners, despite the ironic fact that most acts of domestic terrorism in America is perpetrated by white, far-right radicals (Timothy McVeigh, Jared Loughner, the National Alliance, etc).

      • The fact that many acts of terror in the U.S. are committed by white males is exactly the point here.  Just because somebody calls somebody the word “terrorist” doesn’t mean that it is an ethnic slur on a middle-eastern person.  In fact, the California Penal code section 422 up until recently used the term “terrorist threat” to describe threats of death or bodily injury made to a person where that person reasonably believes that the threat is valid, about to be carried out, and the perpetrator had the means to commmit the act, no matter what the race of the victim or the perpetrator is.

        Obviously this would include about half the bar fights at closing time on any given Saturday night.  According to the previous definition, now changed to “criminal threats”, a significant portion of our bar going attendees of all races, genders, religions, and ethnic groups would be “terrorists”. 

        Again, the term “terrorist” doesn’t automatically mean that any accompanying assault is a hate crime.  The police in this case are just being PC to keep people off their backs.  Even if the perpetrators are caught, the D.A. would never make a hate crime case stick in court. But that’s ok, the police can pull all their detectives off of other people’s cases to solve this one case to satisfy the media.

        • If you really don’t think that the word “terrorist” has been used as a racial slur against middle easterners in America, then you are very ignorant.

        • Because some middle eastern people have been called terrorists, that means that every time somebody calls somebody a terrorist that it is a precursor to a hate crime?  Was there some part of the FBI definition of a hate crime that you failed to comprehend?  Should we gather statistics to see which race is most often called an “asshole” and then label that term racist if it is any race but white?  Wake up Dakota and quite trying to be so PC.

        • My point is that “terrorist” is obviously used as a racial slur here. Why else would the perpetrator have used it? Because Atul had a bomb with him? Because he was discussing terrorist plans? Or because he’s brown?

          I’ll stop trying to be PC when you stop trying to be edgy by defending a racist slur.

        • You are assuming that the word “terrorist” was used as a racial slur because that is what you want to believe.  Fortunately in a court of law they use definitions and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Politics may push the term “hate crime” into the forefront in the news and when charging a crime but our courts generally have the intelligence to demand facts.

        • I’m the one who’s seeing what I want to believe? Once again, I have to ask, if the perpetrator didn’t use the term “terrorist” because of the victim’s race, why did he? I really don’t understand what part of my logic you disagree with, so please tell me which of my assumptions is illogical:

          1. Atul was called a “terrorist” by his attackers.
          2. Atul was not performing any actions that suggested he was a “terrorist” or that would lead someone without racial prejudice to assume he was a terrorist.
          3. Atul was instead called a terrorist because he resembles someone from the middle east, because these people are generally associated with terrorists in popular American culture.
          4. If the term “terrorist” was used in a derogatory based on the victim’s race, which assumption three states is true, then it qualifies as a racial slur.

          I’m guessing it’s number three that you disagree with, but if you’re going to tell me that you don’t think that terrorism has been associated with people of middle eastern origin in America, then you’re engaging in the same mind-trap that you’ve accused me of. The wave of hate crimes after 9/11 should illustrate my point:

      • This comment is a slur on the diverse white American peoples.  All records of crimes, hate crimes, and terrorist crimes in particular show that white Americans perpetrate a much smaller share of such crimes than their share of the population.

        It’s too bad that Dakota seeks to protect the image of middle easterners by promoting a negative and untrue portrayal of the diverse white American peoples.

        We also have no doubt that Mr. Lall was the victim of a hate crime.

        • I am a white American myself. I have no ill wishes against any race or ethnicity, and I am not a white apologist by any means, but white people are NOT a minority and the majority of terrorist acts in America are committed by white extremist groups.

          I suggest you read this report from Homeland Security. It was commissioned by George Bush and released in 2009.

          Newsweek also had a cover story back in November about an FBI mole who penetrated the far right extremist community.

          I think just by glancing at Wikipedia’s page on domestic terrorism in the US, you can find numerous examples of terrorist acts committed by white people in America:

          I would really appreciate if you read the information I’ve linked to you. If you are not going to, please let me know so that I can paraphrase it for you.

        • Dakota, the diverse white Americans are now a minority in San Jose (about 27% of the population at this time, and shrinking) as well as in Santa Clara County.  I thought you knew this is a blog for local affairs.

          However, none of the sources you cite dispute the fact that white Americans perpetrate a much smaller share of such crimes than their share of the population.

          There are apparent exceptions to this in the felony areas of binge drinking, tobacco smoking, and meth abuse & addition.  There are no health programs in existence to assist the diverse white kids seeking to get over these problems in which they are over-represented.

          Nonetheless, total felony crimes, hate crimes, and terrorist crimes by members of the diverse white Americans are a much smaller share of such crimes than their share of the population in any region of the country.

        • “I thought you knew this is a blog for local affairs.”
          If you are following that rule, then why do you call on “All records of crimes, hate crimes, and terrorist crimes in particular”? If there exist records that show that white people in San Jose commit less crime in San Jose then other races, then show me those records, but San Jose has never been host to any acts of real terrorism.

        • “…white Americans perpetrate a much smaller share of such crimes than their share of the population.

          There are apparent exceptions to this in the felony areas of binge drinking, tobacco smoking, and meth abuse & addition.”

          Tobacco smoking isn’t a crime.  Yet.


        • Well, in fact, state laws about tobacco smoking locations, purchasing sites, age requirements for buying & selling, tax avoidance issues, crossing state lines issues, loitering, littering, second-hand smoke, and a whole lot more are involved, one way or another, when young diverse white American kids get into smoking tobacco.

          California has over 35 laws on the books about buying, selling, and smoking tobacco, many with criminal penalties.

          As with everything in our nanny world, criminalizing various activities is the rule, rather than helping to change behavior.

        • I have no doubt that Jared Loughner had mental issues. I shouldn’t have characterized him as far-right, that was a mistake, but I wouldn’t describe him as far-left, either. Loughner was radically anti-government, however, which is a label that I think sums up domestic terrorism in America more accurately than my previous characterization of “right-wing extremism”.

        • What would you call the home grown “soldiers” who shot up Fort Hood? the ones at Fort Dix?

          Is it a hate crime to call a person of Mexican/Hispanic origins a “terrorist” given the “narco-Terrosism” problems occurring on and south of our southern border?

          How about a blond haired/blue eye norweigen after Breivic? Or an Irish person? IRA and UVF and all their analogs….

          Sikhs (contratary to popular belief) have their own terrorist history too – Air India flight 182?

          Kind of a slippery slope – don’t you think?

  11. Atul I’m sorry about what happened to you. Overall it’s a small portion of east side residents that harbor xenophobia.

    I’ve been victim of it many times.  Ironically my family has lived here almost 100 years now.

    There are intolerant scumbags everywhere.  Even on the Senate floor.

    I can’t stress enough that these guys need to be caught.  I’m going to post links to this story in a few places, somebody out there knows who did it.

    Turn anger into a fierce shield of courage that they will not ever beat down.

  12. These guys will eventually get caught…Hopefully the victim can I.D. them…If no I.D. and no confession these chumps walk…Usually these guys get made when a friend of theirs gets caught doing something stupid and seys “Lets make a Deal”…

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