HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Fire Captain with the Bentonville Fire Department was arrested and charged for battery after a fight with an Asian man outside of Oaklawn Casino in Hot Springs.
Benjamin Snodgrass, 44, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor third-degree battery and public intoxication for the incident that occurred around 9:30 p.m. on March 13.
According to a probable cause report, the victim was walking outside of the casino when he was approached by Snodgrass.
According to the victim, Snodgrass asked if he knew he was in America and began to push him.
After the fight, the victim contacted the Hot Springs Police Department. Officers attempted to talk with Snodgrass, however, he wasn’t speaking in clear sentences.
When officers arrived at the scene, the victim was found with a red mark below his left eye, his shirt to be ripped, and a scratch on his right knee.
Snodgrass was heard multiple times saying, “I don’t know guys, I’m hammered.” Police asked what happened between the two males and Snodgrass admitted he confronted the victim about not being American, but stated nothing happened.
Bodycam footage is shown below of the arrest. Disclaimer: viewer discretion is advised due to the use of profanity.
Officers observed Snodgrass to have blood on his left earlobe, blood on his lips and redness to both of his knuckles, according to a police report.
He has since been released from the Garland County Jail on March 14 after posting a $1,500 bond.
On March 19, the victim filed a no contact order and it was granted by a Garland County Judge. Snodgrass also entered a not guilty plea for all charges.
His next court date is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on May 6 at the Garland County courtroom in Hot Springs.
Snodgrass has been with the Bentonville Fire Department for 12 years, according to the Bentonville website.
Debbie Griffin with the city of Bentonville says Snodgrass is on administration leave pending an internal investigation.
“The City has learned of an arrest of a City employee in Hot Springs. Due to the nature of the alleged offense, the employee has been placed on leave pending investigation of the matter.”
The City of Bentonville does not condone or tolerate any form of discrimination or violence. In fact, we have worked hard with the formation of a DEI task force both, in the community and internally as a staff, to make sure that everyone has a voice, they are heard, and feel welcome and protected in our community. We will continue our work to make Bentonville an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for all.Bentonville Mayor Stephanie Orman
Julie Roper is the victim’s lawyer. She says the victim, as well as his family, has been known to her for many years as hard-working people with a high standard of moral character.
In a statement, she said, “I hope that this case might bring focus to the need for enhanced sentencing through a hate crime statute so that we might assure that the citizens of Arkansas of every race or ethnicity can be free of fear of an incident like this that happened to this Asian – American family.”
The Asian American and Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus of Arkansas is calling on state lawmakers to pass a hate crimes bill.
A bill was introduced this legislative session and is still under revision.
Joshua Ang Price is the president and co-founder of the organization that advocates for the rights of Asian Americans.
“I’m shocked, I’m saddened, you never want these things to happen in your state,” Ang Price said. “What was said during the attack so having this type of legislation is so important not just to protect Asian Americans but to protect everyone.”
This Friday, you can join in on the #StopAsianHate virtual town hall hosted by the AAPI Democratic Caucus of Arkansas. It starts at 5:30 P.M. and will be live-streamed on its Facebook page.
During it, you’ll hear from leaders of other minority communities as they discuss the importance of supporting each other right now and the importance of having a hate crimes bill.