Marshall Thompson, owner of Donabe Asian Kitchen, said he had just finished having dinner with friends at Lambert’s around 7 p.m. on June 25 when they were attacked outside the restaurant by …
Marshall Thompson, owner of Donabe Asian Kitchen, said he had just finished having dinner with friends at Lambert’s around 7 p.m. on June 25 when they were attacked outside the restaurant by four men walking down Bent Street shouting racial slurs.
“I’m tired of all these [expletive] white people in my [expletive] town,” Thompson remembers one of the four men saying not long before the attack began.
Taos Police Chief David Trujillo confirmed this week that an officer responded to a report of the alleged battery on Bent Street, but said none of the four men accused in the beating – one of whom is described as a Taos Pueblo tribal member – had been detained or arrested as of press time Tuesday (July 2).
“Any misdemeanor that doesn’t occur in an officer’s presence we cannot arrest on,” said Chief Trujillo, who explained that Thompson and his friend suffered “minor injuries,” while the woman they were with was not harmed.
Thompson, whose new restaurant is located just a block away from where the alleged attack occurred, said there was more to the story than police were willing to say this week.
He said that he, his friend and his friend’s wife were leaving Lambert’s on Bent Street in broad daylight on June 25, when they encountered the four men walking toward them.
Thompson said he didn’t know the men in the group, but had seen them drinking at another local establishment earlier in the evening, though he wouldn’t specify where. He said the three other men appeared to be white.
As they continued to approach Thompson and his friends, his friend’s wife became frightened and climbed into their car, which was parked by Bent Street Deli. Meanwhile, Thompson and his friend stood outside the car watching the four men coming toward them, he said.
As they came closer, Thompson said one of them made another racial comment and asked his friend, “What the [expletive] are you looking at?”
“I’m looking at you,” his friend responded.
Thompson said that two of the men then walked over to his friend and started “whaling” on him.
When the third man started to join in the beating, Thompson said he pulled him away, but the fourth man came up behind him and put him in a chokehold, causing him to pass out.
When Thompson came to, he said the men had moved his friend to a bush, where they were continuing to kick and punch him as he lay on the ground.
His friend’s wife called police multiple times. An officer arrived on the scene several minutes later. By then, the four alleged assailants dispersed. Thompson estimates it took between 10-12 minutes for an officer to respond to the call. The call log from Taos Central Dispatch agrees with that estimate, indicating the call came in at 7:05 p.m. and an officer reported arriving on scene at 7:15 p.m.
The log also indicates that the officer called for an ambulance and sent out an ATL (attempt to locate) for two men, one wearing a white shirt and another wearing a black shirt. He also later reported two license plate numbers to a dispatcher handling the call, but the dispatcher’s response regarding whom the vehicles belonged to were redacted from the log.
The officer reported finishing with the call at around 7:45 p.m. and noted that a police report was created in connection to the incident. Chief Trujillo said this week that the report would not be released on Tuesday because the case is under investigation.
Trujillo did not identify any of the suspects, but said the tribal member has been referred to Taos Pueblo Police Department, whose department head, Chief Gary Lefthand, did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
Trujillo said the evidence uncovered in their investigation would soon be submitted to the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, whose prosecutors will then assess whether they have enough probable cause to file charges.
But Thompson said that he and his friends are concerned about whether the DA will have much evidence to go on. He said they all felt as though the incident was given too little attention by the officer who responded to the scene.
Thompson’s friend and his wife declined to speak about the incident on the record, but said they have hired an attorney.
Thompson knows the central area of Taos well. He said there are vagrants who have made their home in the area and said problems tend to crop up every so often, but said he doesn’t often hear about the types of incidents he and his friends experienced last week.
But that’s just one side of the story, as Trujillo emphasized this week.
“The incident is still under investigation,” he said. “Soon, the entire picture will be painted and submitted.”
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