Dennis Wyman is the California man facing hate crime charges after prosecutors said he intentionally drove his car into a crowd of Black people after yelling racial insults at the group. An off-duty security guard was injured and treated at a local hospital.
The incident happened on June 29 in the parking lot of the Staybridge Suites hotel located on Prairie Avenue in Torrance, California, police explained in a news release. Wyman was identified and arrested more than a week later.
Here’s what you need to know:
Police: Wyman Drove Toward the Group In the Parking Lot, Prompting the Off-Duty Security Guard to Fire at the Vehicle
The Torrance Police Department explained in a news release that officers were dispatched to the Staybridge Suites around 11:30 p.m. on June 29 on a report that gunshots had been fired. Investigators said the confrontation started when a suspect, now identified as Dennis Wyman of Redondo Beach, yelled racial slurs at a group of Black people in the hotel parking lot. Police did not specify what might have prompted the argument or whether Wyman knew the individuals in the parking lot.
Police said Wyman got into his vehicle and drove toward the group. The department did not specify how fast Wyman was driving. One of the individuals was identified as a 50-year-old security guard who was off-duty but was armed with a handgun at the time. Police said the man fired several shots at Wyman’s vehicle before he was struck by the car. Wyman fled the scene.
Torrance Police said the injured man, whom they did not identify by name, suffered “lower extremity injuries.” Paramedics treated the victim at the scene before taking him to a local hospital. His condition was not released. Prosecutors said the man was the father of one of the individuals in the parking lot and that he had approached the scene to defend the group.
Wyman Was Initially Arrested For Attempted Murder
Torrance Police identified Wyman and issued a warrant for his arrest. Officers with the Redondo Beach Police located Wyman on July 8 and took him into custody during a traffic stop. According to a news release from police, Wyman was initially facing a charge of attempted murder.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office decided against pursuing the attempted murder charge. Instead, the prosecutor has charged Wyman with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in serious injury to another person. The prosecutor enhanced the charges by classifying Wyman’s accused actions as hate crimes.
The California Department of Justice penal code includes the following language to describe a hate crime:
422.55 – Defines “hate crime” as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation; or because of the person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
If convicted of a felony, a hate crime enhancement can add years to a defendant’s prison sentence. Prosecutors said Wyman faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 years behind bars if convicted of the current charges.
Wyman’s Bond Was Set at More Than $1 Million
Wyman was arrested on July 8 and booked into the men’s central jail in Los Angeles. Prosecutors initially set bail at $115,000. But Los Angeles County inmate records show the bond was raised to $1.002 million.
Wyman was initially scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on July 13 but the case was delayed until July 14. The case was being handled by the Torrance Municipal Court.