Aggression and racism combined can lead to jail and a fractured face.
Pettijohn William Samuel, an American educator at Chatsworth International School, has been found guilty of one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt when he punched a man who stood up and defended a stranger against racist remarks. The punch to the face of Arora Neil Kant, the victim, was delivered with so much force that Kant blacked out and suffered multiple facial fractures.
The aggressor, American Pettijohn, was sentenced to jail for a year and eight months (20 months) on Tuesday (Sep 3). The 31-year-old was also ordered to pay the victim S$1,000 in compensation.
A “Good Samaritan”
The victim, Arora Neil Kant, who was credited as a “Good Samaritan” by the prosecution, was with his friend Patel Kanak in a queue when they overheard Pettijohn making nasty statements to an Indian man unknown to them.
The American was overheard as saying, “Don’t touch me you Indian … you may be allowed to queue like that in your country but you can’t … like that here.”
Neil and Kanak went to assist the Indian man and berated Pettijohn for making such prejudiced commentaries.
Soon, Neil’s friends and Pettijohn’s group started arguing which caught the attention of some security guards who went to separate them. However, when Neil’s group left the stand to board an Uber taxi, they saw Pettijohn and a friend approached them.
When Neil saw his friend Kanak fall to the ground, he surmised that he had been pushed by the aggressors and held onto Pettijohn’s sleeves below his elbow to prevent him from hurting anyone else. But Pettijohn broke free of Neil’s grip and punched Neil, who fainted.
The Good Samaritan undergoes reconstructive surgery
Following the incident, Pettijohn took off from the scene and Neil had to undergo surgery so that his eyes could be reconstructed with the use of titanium plates for his eye sockets. He also lost the sensation in his face from underneath his nose, up to his cheekbone, and has permanent peripheral double vision and occasional flashbacks of the assault.
The defence asserted that a friend of Pettijohn’s had said: “Settle down, this isn’t India,” after which a heated argument ensued where Neil and Kanak accused the aggressor of racism.
Pettijohn claimed that he had been struck on the face by a fist and that Kanak had punched him. He also claimed that he punched Neil as Neil held onto his sleeve and he could not free himself.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelly Ho ordered at least 21 months’ jail, and for Pettijohn to pay the victim S$1,000 for the out-of-pocket expenses his medical insurance will not cover.
District Judge Mathew Joseph said the case, which started out with what was supposed to be a night of enjoyment among friends, was a stark reminder and warning that racist remarks and intoxicated persons are likely to be a “volatile and dangerous mix.” /TISG