An assault on Sept. 29 in Palo Alto is being investigated by police as a hate crime after a man on a bicycle was allegedly spat on, called a racial epithet and struck with a pickup truck, Palo Alto police said in a press release on Monday.
At about 5:32 p.m., police received a call reporting an injury hit-and-run collision that had just occurred on University Avenue at Webster Street. Officers and Palo Alto Fire Department personnel responded immediately.
A man in his 30s was bicycling east on University Avenue in the road and had momentarily pulled farther into the traffic lane to pass a car that was attempting to park. A man in in a pickup truck pulled up next to him and began to yell at him for riding in the middle of the road.
The two men began arguing, at which point the truck driver called the cyclist, who is Black, a racial epithet. The victim reported to police that the driver spat on him, reached out to grab his arm, and then drove the truck into the side of the bicycle. The cyclist fell to the ground.
The cyclist said the truck drove over his bicycle, and the driver turned north on Webster Street and then east on Lytton Avenue. The cyclist later saw the truck turn back onto University Avenue heading east and continue driving. The cyclist's leg had a small laceration, which paramedics treated at the scene. His bicycle was damaged but remained rideable, police stated.
The driver was described as a white male in his 30s with blonde hair and wearing a construction vest. The truck was a silver Toyota.
Detectives plan to have a police artist work with the victim to produce a sketch of the suspect and will distribute the sketch when it is available, the police said.
Details on other hate crimes reported in Palo Alto can be found online at cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDnews under the search word “hate.”
"Officers will thoroughly investigate any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto," the police department said in the press release. "You are welcome to read a blog post from the city entitled 'Steps the Community Can Take to Help Stop Hate Crimes.' The city of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds and encourages members of our community to promptly report these incidents by calling our 24-hour dispatch center at 650- 329-2413, or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency."
The city’s Human Relations Commission is continuing its work to advance the city’s race and equity initiative, focusing on enhanced public awareness and education surrounding hate crimes and hate incidents in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Police received no other calls about this case from any passersby, nor were officers able to locate any witnesses. The department is asking anyone who might have witnessed this incident to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.