Federal Court Settlement for Sikh Man Who Accused North California Deputies of Inaction in Investigating Hate Crimes
- Claire Rouble had sued the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office and two deputies for inadequately probing two incidents he experienced in 2021.
Claire Rouble, described by The Sikh Coalition as “a Sikh man of South Asian descent,” who accused a Northern California sheriff’s office of inadequately investigating a pair of racist hate crimes he said he experienced in 2021 has been awarded a $25,000 judgment, after suing the county and two deputies in federal court.
Claire, a retiree living in the community of Sutter, west of Yuba City, was making a routine trip to a convenience store in May 2021 when a woman threatened to ram him with her car while shouting racial slurs at him, including calling him a “F*cking Hindu,” according to a Sikh Coalition press release.
That same afternoon, he caught a different woman writing slurs in front of his home and on his driveway. The Sikh Coalition says that the two women are connected. She wrote “SAND N*GGER” in chalk on the sidewalk outside Claire’s house and on his driveway, and called him “n*gger” when he went outside, the Coalition said.
In the civil suit filed last May in Sacramento federal court, Claire further alleged that unnecessary delays and inaction by Sutter County sheriff’s deputies assigned to the case resulted in prosecutors declining to pursue charges in the parking lot incident.
According to the Coalition, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) “failed to properly investigate either incident that day, and officers interfered with evidence of the crimes by attempting to wash away the hateful slurs on Claire’s driveway before taking photographs.” The SCSO then refused to reopen the investigation for many months, until the Sikh Coalition got involved. “When the SCSO ultimately did investigate, they recommended charges against the woman involved in the grocery store incident; however, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office (SCDAO) then refused to bring those charges,” the coalition said.
The court ruled on Jan. 30 that the SCSO and Sutter County “violated Claire’s rights,” the coalition said, adding that “Claire’s legal team also discovered that Sutter County was not following state law with regards to the SCSO’s hate crime policy.”
In a statement via the Silk Coalition, Claire said “the settlement is a step forward for my own peace of mind–but more importantly, it will hopefully help to ensure that nothing like my experience ever happens to anyone in Sutter County again. It is the responsibility of our law enforcement officials to take all crimes and threats seriously, and accountability is essential when they do not live up to that standard.”
While the Sikh Coalition did not represent Claire in his civil suit, “it worked to push the SCSO to reopen the investigation into Claire’s case.” Additionally, the group engaged former Sutter County District Attorney Amanda Hopper regarding her office’s decision not to pursue charges in this case. During this effort, the coalition “marshaled hundreds of community members to send messages of support for Claire to the SCDAO, and led 12 additional organizations to send a letter to Hopper urging her to take action.”