Victim of alleged antisemitic attack seeks $1.6 million+ from assailants


A judge's gavel

ALHAMBRA (City News Service) — An Armenian American photographer who was allegedly hit with a bottle and beaten by two assailants while talking with a group of Jewish men outside a Beverly Grove restaurant in 2021 is seeking more than $1.6 million in a default judgment against both of his alleged attackers.

Photographer Mher Hagopian is suing Samer Jaylusi and Xavier Pabon in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging civil rights violations, assault, battery, conspiracy to commit assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Hagopian’s attorneys filed court papers on June 14 with Alhambra Superior Court Judge Ian C. Fusselman asking for $1 million in punitive damages and nearly $624,000 in compensatory damages from each defendant.

The proposed default judgment would “send a clear and resounding message that antisemitism is not tolerated in our country,” Hagopian’s lawyers argue in their court papers.

Both Jaylusi and Pabon have ignored the litigation. Representatives for the pair could not be immediately reached.

A cell phone video was recorded of the May 18, 2021, attack, which took place about 9:45 p.m. outside Sushi Fumi, a Japanese restaurant on North La Cienega Boulevard. A group of cars with Palestinian flags arrived with about two dozen passengers and megaphones, the suit states.

“The convoy was there simply to seek out Jews,” the suit states.

“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.”

Hagopian was hired to take photos at the upcoming wedding of his Jewish friend, so the two of them and two Jewish friends of the future groom met for dinner outside at Sushi Fumi to discuss the wedding plans, according to the suit filed in March 2022.

Most of the convoy passengers’ identities were obscured by hooded sweaters or other garb that partially or fully covered their faces, the suit states. They yelled out antisemitic remarks, including “dirty Jew,”

“Are you Jewish?,” “Are you Israeli?” and “Be ashamed of yourselves,”the suit states.

“Refusing to be intimidated, Hagopian’s friends responded that they were Jewish,” the suit states.

At least one bottle thrown from the convoy hit Hagopian in the head and one other glass object shattered on the sidewalk near dining patrons, according to the suit. “All hell broke loose,” the suit states.

Other diners ran inside the restaurant or away from the area, but Hagopian and his friends were quickly targeted because they did not have the chance to escape, the suit states.

“At this point, Hagopian and his friends truly feared for their lives,” the suit states.

The plaintiff grabbed a nearby stanchion that had roped off Sushi Fumi’s outdoor dining area and tried to fend off the attackers and protect his friends, the suit states.

At least four men, including Jaylusi and Pabon, overtook Hagopian, slammed him against a vehicle and began beating him with their fists and arms while also spraying him with an aerosol chemical, the suit states.

“Hagopian’s selfless conduct saved others from suffering severe injury” and led to Jaylusi, Pabon and the others leaving, the suit states.

“In the aftermath of this chaos, Hagopian and his friends, and their fellow diners, were left physically and emotionally beaten,” the suit states.

Hagopian suffered emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and injury to his reputation because of the attack, the suit states. The attack was condemned by many faith leaders as well as then-Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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