Two men who were charged with hate crimes for attacking Jewish men outside a Los Angeles restaurant in 2021 are being sued by a photographer who was injured during the altercation.
Mher Hagopian, who is not Jewish, filed the lawsuit on Monday with the Los Angeles Superior Court against Samer Jaylusi and Xavier Pabon. Hagopian is claiming civil rights violations, assault, battery, conspiracy to commit assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is asking for unspecified compensation and punitive damages, according to Fox11 Los Angeles.
The incident occurred in May 2021 outside a sushi restaurant in the La Cienega and Beverly area, known as a heavily Jewish part of Los Angeles.
One of the diners who said he was involved in the altercation told CNN affiliate KABC he was eating outside the restaurant with four friends who are Jewish when a group of men stopped their car and started yelling.
The man said a group of men who appeared to be pro-Palestinian exited their vehicle and began attacking his friends and he attempted to fight back.
Video obtained by CNN showed a number of cars driving past the restaurant that appeared to match the description provided by police with passengers waving Palestinian Arab flags and exchanging anti-Israel slogans and swear words with people outside the restaurant.
The five victims involved in the attack suffered minor injuries.
"The convoy was there simply to seek out Jews," Hagopian’s lawsuit said. "Indeed, the area of Los Angeles adjacent to Sushi Fumi is widely known to be one of the centers for Jewish life in Los Angeles."
According to the suit, Hagopian was hired as the photographer for the wedding of his Jewish friend. The two of them and two Jewish friends of the groom met for dinner at Sushi Fumi to speak about plans for the wedding.
The suit details how the pro-Palestinian convoy hid their faces with hoods or covered their faces to obscure their identity and that they yelled antisemitic slurs at the diners.
"Refusing to be intimidated, Hagopian's friends responded that they were Jewish," the suit recounts.
The assailants began throwing bottles at the Jewish diners, at least one of which hit Hagopian in the head.
At that point, "All hell broke loose.”
The suit points out that while other patrons were able to run inside the restaurant or leave the area, Hagopian and his friends were unable to move away in time and so became targeted by the convoy.
"At this point, Hagopian and his friends truly feared for their lives," the suit said.
Hagopian tried to protect himself and his friends from the attackers with a stanchion that had been used to cordon off the outdoor patio. Four men, including Jaylusi and Pabon proceed to assault him, throwing him against a vehicle and repeatedly punching him. They also sprayed him with an aerosol chemical, the suit said.
"In the aftermath of this chaos, Hagopian and his friends, and their fellow diners, were left physically and emotionally beaten," the suit explained.
It stated that Hagopian was left with emotional distress, humiliation and injury to his reputation because of the incident.