Image from online video
A woman who was captured on video making a pair of racist rants aimed at Asian Americans at a Torrance park in June is set to be arraigned in October on a separate battery charge dating back to last fall.
Lena Hernandez, 54, identified by prosecutors as a retired social worker from Long Beach, is accused of verbally assaulting a custodian at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance last October, and then physically attacking a female bystander who tried to intervene.
Hernandez was charged with battery last Thursday, July 2 and arrested the following day by Torrance police, according to online jail records. She was released later that day on zero bail, under a special schedule set to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Her arraignment is set for Oct. 5.
Hernandez was the subject of two viral videos taken June 10 which showed her going on racist rants against Asian Americans in Wilson Park on Crenshaw Boulevard.
The Torrance city attorney’s office concluded “there is insufficient evidence to support filing any criminal charges against Ms. Hernandez” in connection with those incidents.
“A prosecutor in a criminal case shall not institute a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause. Currently, there are critical gaps in the evidence regarding how each incident unfolded that result in the lack of necessary certainty required to initiate criminal prosecution against any suspect,” according to a statement the city attorney released last Thursday, July 2.
In the first case, a woman later identified as Hernandez was caught on video verbally accosting a young woman exercising at the park.
“Go back to whatever (expletive) Asian country you belong in,” Hernandez yelled. “This is not your place. This is not your home. We do not want you here.”
An Asian man posted a video online showing him and his son being accosted and threatened by Hernandez on the same day.
“You need to go home,” Hernandez tells the man as she walks up and stands so close that her image fills his phone screen. “I don’t care about your Facebook or your video. Do you know how many people can’t stand you being here? You play games, we don’t play games.”
After threatening the man and telling him he had parked his car too close to hers, Hernandez mockingly called him a slur.
The videos prompted hundreds of people to gather on June 12 at Wilson Park to protest the racist behavior, and city officials held a news conference to identify Hernandez and ask for the public’s help to locate her.
“Our hope is that the members of our community will never have to endure such treatment,” Torrance Police Department Chief Eve Berg said then.
The city attorney’s office said it could not be swayed by public sentiment.
“It is a prosecutor’s solemn duty to analyze a case based on the evidence and trialability and not based on politics or public sentiment unrelated to the likelihood of prevailing before a jury,” the Thursday, July 2 statement read.