United Kingdom

White couple arrested after 'attacking black hotel worker and calling her "monkey"'

A white couple from Long Island have been arrested and now face assault and other charges after an alleged racist attack against a black hotel worker in Connecticut was caught on surveillance video. 

The NYPD and US Marshals Service took Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 29, of Long Island, into custody early Monday in Brooklyn, New York.   

The couple were arrested after allegedly attacking hotel worker Crystal Caldwell, 59, of Groton, Connecticut, while they stayed at the Quality Inn in Mystic, Connecticut, on June 26. 

Surveillance footage from the hotel showed suspects Philip Sarner, 39 (in green), and Emily Orbay, 29 (in shorts) as they approached victim Crystal Caldwell, 59 (in background)

The video showed Sarner and Orbay attacking Caldwell (being thrown to the ground) and kicking her. Caldwell said they called her 'monkey' during the alleged assault

Police arrested Sarner (left) and Orbay (right) on Monday. The couple had no permanent address and had to be tracked down in Brooklyn, New York  

Police said that Sarner will be charged with second degree assault and third degree assault, while Orbay will be charged with two counts of third degree assault. Both of them will also face a charge of intimidation based on bigotry and bias, according to NBC Connecticut.    

While police were en route to the scene, authorities said 'a second, much more violent, attack took place.'

During the alleged attacks - which were caught on surveillance video - Caldwell, who is black, said that Sarner and Orbay repeatedly called her 'monkey.' 

Caldwell told The Day that the attack occurred after a man called the front desk at about 11am to complain that his hot water wasn't working. 

Caldwell (in black) said the incidents occurred because Sarner had called the front desk, where she worked, to complain that his hot water wasn't working

The incidents took place at the Quality Inn in Mystic, Connecticut, on June 26 at about 11.30am

She said she told him that she could either send a repairman or move them to another room, at which point she claims the man got angry and swore at her, telling her that he was going to send his girlfriend to the lobby to 'kick her ass.'

Caldwell said she hung up on the man. Minutes later, the man showed up at the front desk. 

She said she then told the hotel's general manager and executive housekeeper, who spoke with the man, while he threatened Caldwell.  

Caldwell said that when she responded to him, the man ran at her and tried to hit her. She said that as she fought back, she was punched in the head repeatedly, sustaining a concussion, swollen face and badly injured right eye.

As he was punching her, Caldwell claimed the man called her an 'old monkey.'

Caldwell then claimed that when police arrived, they told her to wait in the employee lounge and not to leave the room, while they reviewed surveillance footage.

She said that she went out into the hallway to get some ice for her face because she didn't know that an ambulance was coming. 

However, once in the hallway, Caldwell said that the man's girlfriend shouted at her for scratching him and they ganged up on her, pushing her against the wall and then down onto the ground, kicking her in the back and injuring her ribs. 

She said that she only managed to avoid being kicked in the face because she was able to push herself off the ground. 

In addition to allegedly calling Caldwell a 'monkey' during the second attack, which she said took place while police were on site, she claimed the couple also said: 'Black Lives Matter? Your life doesn’t matter, you don’t deserve to live on this earth.'

Caldwell's family and other supporters have complained that police allowed the couple to flee the scene and didn't arrest them right away.  

'There was no arrest. They took them to the hospital, still not arrested. They were allowed to come back to the [hotel] grab their belongings and leave, are you serious?' Caldwell's nephew, Wayne Rawls, told The Day.

'I know if it was me, I’d be under the prison, I’d be underneath this jail still.'

Police presented a slightly different version of events following their investigation. 

Authorities said it was 'Completely false' that they were on the scene when the second attack took place. 

Surveillance video showed that the first attack took place at 11.33am and that one of the witnesses - another hotel employee - took Caldwell to her office before calling police. 

The second attack - also caught on video - occurred at 11.37am. 

The attacks occurred 'all prior to any police arrival at the Quality Inn,' authorities said, claiming that the timing is supported by surveillance video. 

Police also said that they have not been able to find any witnesses who heard or saw the suspects - Sarner and Orbay - say to Caldwell that 'Black lives matter, your life doesn’t, you don’t deserve to live on this earth.'

Police also said that the the first attack occurred after Caldwell had left the lobby area, when she got into a 'verbal altercation' with the suspect in a hallway. She 'then walked away and was chased down and assaulted,' police said.  

Police said that after they arrived at the scene, Caldwell, Sarner and Orbay asked for medical attention,  

Police said that after viewing partial surveillance footage of the first incident, they had enough probable cause to arrest Sarner and Orbay, but due to coronavirus precautions, they were prevented from entering the ER to make the arrest. 

Police said they then advised Sarner by phone that he would need to call them to make arrangements to be escorted back to the Quality Inn to retrieve his belongings as they weren't 'welcome back at the hotel that day.' Police then planned to arrest the couple at that time.  

At about 3pm that day, however, Sarner called police claiming that he was being threatened and harassed by Caldwell's relatives on Facebook. 

At about 3.20pm, police said they called Sarner who told him he was still at the hospital, but police later discovered that he and Orbay had actually ordered a Lyft ride back to the hotel, picked up their car and - within one minute of arrival - drove away. 

The couple did not, as previously assumed by hotel employees, have any of their possessions left inside their room.  

It wasn't until three days later, on June 29, that police were able to get all video footage of the incident from the hotel, including video showing that in between attacks, the couple had put their luggage into their car.  

Arrest warrants were then obtained on July 1. 

Police told NBC Connecticut that neither Sarner nor Orbay have permanent addresses. 

They were eventually tracked down in Brooklyn on July 13.  

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