A brother of Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was fatally shot by an officer during the Capital riot, is accused of yelling racial slurs and assaulting a Latino traffic controller in San Diego.
Roger Stefan Witthoeft Jr. was arraigned last week on charges of committing battery, with a hate crime enhancement, and violating the victim’s constitutional rights by threat of force, San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott announced.
The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the relation between Babbitt and Witthoeft, citing public records and a business lawsuit in which they were co-defendants. Witthoeft identified himself as Babbitt’s brother to The New York Times last year.
The incident happened in September, when a San Diego Gas & Electric worker told Witthoeft that he would need to take a detour, authorities said.
Witthoeft “exited his pickup truck and verbally and physically confronted the worker, a Latino man,” said a statement from Elliott’s office.
“Witnesses told police that Witthoeft shouted a number of racial slurs at the worker, as well as variations on, ‘Why don’t you talk in English you … immigrant?’ and ‘Go back to your country you … immigrant,’” the statement said.
Prosecutors said witnesses also told investigators that Witthoeft challenged the worker to fight him and then shoved the worker and swung at him.
Witthoeft’s trial is scheduled for next month. The Union-Tribune reported that he is being represented by a public defender. The San Diego County public defender’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was a security forces controller who served multiple Middle East tours from 2004 to 2016, according to Air Force records.
In recent years, she had posted numerous messages on social media indicating she was an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and a follower and promoter of many well-known radical conservative activists, as well as leaders of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
Babbitt’s death has been promoted as an unjust killing by some on the far right who have sought to downplay the violence at the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and they have demanded that the identity of the shooter be publicly released. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., has said Babbitt’s death was “an execution,” and he accused the officer who shot her of “lying in wait” to shoot her.