Lorena Delaguna of Queens, New York has been charged with attempted assault as a hate crime after she threw a bottle at a Black jogger while calling her the “N-word,” police say.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on September 22 that the 53-year-old had been arrested on charges of attempted assault in the second degree as a hate crime. and aggravated harassment in the second degree, stemming from the August 17 incident.
“In addition to allegedly yelling the N-word, the defendant in this case is also accused of throwing a bottle in an attempt to strike the victim. Crimes like this, which are fueled by hate, are in a special category for a reason,” Katz said in an online statement.
“No one should have to endure being called a vile slur or being attacked simply because of the color of their skin, their religion, or who they love.”
Delaguna was arraigned earlier that morning and ordered to return to court on September 25, according to the district attorney’s office. She was booked into the Rose M. Singer Center, arrest records show.
As of late Tuesday, Delaguna had not yet made bail, which was set at $5,000 insurance bond, $2,500 cash, or $5,000 partially secured bond, The New York Daily News reported.
If convicted, she could face up to seven years in prison, the newspaper added.
Here’s what you need to know about Lorena Delaguna:
1. Delaguna Told the Jogger to ‘Go Back to Africa’ While Calling Her the N-Word, Police Say
On the afternoon of August 17, Tiffany Johnson went for a jog in Woodside, Queens, she wrote on Facebook.
The 37-year-old then claimed she was harassed by Delaguna due to the “color of [my] skin,” writing:
This incident happened to me while I was jogging in 98 degree weather minding my business. I had no idea somebody was filming this, it literally surfaced 1 month later and is now viral on the internet. I filed a police report. At the time her hair was blonde and short but she may have changed it since then.
As a black woman I’m always cautious bc i know that the color of my skin is triggering for certain people.
The district attorney’s office said Delaguna threw the glass bottle at Johnson, which shattered near the jogger and splashed liquid on her.
Prosecutors also accused Delaguna of cursing at and using racial slurs toward Johnson, “telling her to get out of here and go back to Africa and calling her the N-word,” according to the district attorney’s office press release.
Delaguna then proceeded to follow Johnson for at least one block while continuing to threaten her, the statement continued.
2. Bystander Footage of the Incident Has Since Gone Viral
Bystander footage of the event was picked up by the NYPD Hate Crimes Twitter account on September 16.
The tweet, which has since amassed over 8,500 views, was captioned: “WANTED for ANTI-BLACK ASSAULT in the @NYPD114Pct on 8/17/20 at 12:30 PM on the corner of 53rd Pl and Broadway. Call @NYPDnews 800-577-TIPS. DISCLAIMER: Offensive language and profanity.”
The clip shows Delaguna screaming “Get the f— out!” at Johnson, and “Why aren’t you in Africa, motherf—-r n—-r!”
3. Delaguna Has Been Previously Arrested on Charges of Burglary, Menacing and Graffiti
According to The New York Daily News, Delaguna’s prior arrest record includes 10 felonies and 23 arrests dating back to 2014.
The charges include accusations of burglary, menacing and graffiti charges, the newspaper continued, citing police.
4. A Judge Has Ordered a Mental Health Evaluation for Delaguna
During the virtual September 22 arraignment, Queens Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey Gershuny expressed that “harm” does not have to be physical, The New York Daily News reported.
“Harm does not have to be cuts and scratches,” he stated, according to the newspaper. “I find that in this case where the defendant is alleged to throw a glass bottle… and then [for the victim] to be yelled at, be threatened and followed, I find that’s harm directed to an identifiable person.”
Gershuny also noted that “there is a mental health component here” and ordered a mental health evaluation for Delaguna, The New York Daily News reported.
“There is a mental health component here and that’s all the court is going to say on the matter,” the judge said. “I’m really taking into consideration everything in totality.”
5. Delaguna Studied at LaGaurdia College, According to Social Media
According to her Facebook page, Delaguna graduated from LaGuardia College in 1988.
She also previously worked at State Auto Group, the page continues.
NYC Department of Corrections booking information states that Delaguna was born in 1967 and is of Colombian ethnicity.