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Facebook Live video spurs hate crime charges against woman after 'Spanish privilege' rant

Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE -- In a video posted on Facebook, the narrator seems to grow angrier and angrier as she tails a woman in her car while railing against "Spanish privilege," criticizing the woman's driving as un-American and repeatedly saying that the woman and her family don't belong here.

"This is America. We don't drive like that here. We don't drive like you're in Mexico, lady," a female voice is heard saying on the video that is a critical piece of evidence in an unusual hate-crime case.

As the driver in front makes her way to Rainier Prep Academy near White Center, Wash., the voice on the video continues: "This is my freakin' neighborhood. This is where I grew up. I grew up here, not them. This woman don't deserve to belong here, she don't belong here. She don't (expletive) belong here."

King County prosecutors say the woman who recorded and posted the video is Sandra Jametski, 48, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the other driver, a woman named Dolores. Jametski was charged in early December with malicious harassment, a hate crime, for allegedly posting the racially charged tirade on Nov. 21.

Under Washington state law, the malicious harassment -- or hate crime -- statute provides protections for people attacked over race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory handicap.

Prosecutors say Jametski filmed the 10-minute video with her smartphone as she followed Dolores on her usual 21/2-mile drive to her son's school.

In the school parking lot, Jametski angrily confronted Dolores, all the while recording the interaction on her cellphone, according to the charges.

On the video, Jametski blames one of Dolores' children for causing a car accident a year earlier, though police records show Jametski was at fault for the crash.

But the rant took an even darker turn when she allegedly threatened to ram Dolores' SUV, questioned her immigration status and made expletive-laced references to having her deported, charging papers say.

Dolores, 44, and her husband are originally from Mexico. The Seattle Times has agreed not to publish Dolores' last name to protect her family's privacy and because she is the alleged victim of a crime.

Jailed since Dec. 3, Jametski -- who also goes by the name Sandra Huddleson -- is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The unusually high amount is based, in part, on Jametski's criminal history that includes convictions for second-degree assault and driving under the influence, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mike Hogan.

But the high bail was also warranted because Jametski's actions amounted to "an attack on the entire Latino community," said Hogan, who has been prosecuting hate crimes for 30 years.

Jametski pleaded not guilty to the malicious-harassment charge at her arraignment Dec. 15.

During the hearing, defense attorney Gordon Hill argued that she should face a misdemeanor harassment charge because he said comments about immigration status and deportation don't fall into a protected category under state law. He also asked that her bail be reduced.

However, after some of Jametski's alleged comments were read aloud in court, King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector told Hill she disagreed that Jametski should face a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony. Spector also denied his motion to reduce Jametski's bail.

Outside the courtroom, Hill declined to comment further about the case.

Hogan said the case against Jametski is unusual for a couple of reasons.

The first is that the defendant herself is accused of posting critical evidence on Facebook -- and without the video, it's unlikely she would have been reported, let alone charged with a crime.

The second is that the alleged victim is Hispanic, a group that tends to underreport instances of malicious harassment to police. Hogan said that may be due to fears that contacting police could lead to deportation or questions about immigration status.

Hogan said victims in hate-crime investigations are never asked about their immigration status. In cases where victims reveal they are undocumented, he said his office can secure U-visas, which are nonimmigrant visas set aside for victims of crimes.

Under state law, malicious harassment is defined as intentionally injuring, damaging property or threatening someone because of his or her perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory handicap.

Dolores said she considered calling police immediately after she was confronted in the parking lot of her son's school. Though rattled, she decided not to call 911 because the woman was gone by the time she'd collected her son.

Later that night, though, a friend sent Dolores a link to a Facebook page that appears to belong to Jametski.

"She knew our house, she knew our cars, she knew where my brother goes to school," said Dolores' daughter, Adriana, 21. "She seemed to have a personal vendetta against everyone in our family. We just felt really threatened and scared and just didn't feel safe."

"That's what made my husband afraid," Dolores continued. "She doesn't want to do something herself; she wants to involve other people who don't like Hispanics."

Adriana called 911.

Seated at their kitchen table, Dolores and Adriana explained the circumstances of Jametski's earlier car crash, though they didn't learn she was the driver in the accident until after they saw the video on Facebook.

Dolores' then-16-year-old daughter had just gotten her learner's permit and went for a drive on Nov. 25, 2015, with her mother in the seat beside her.

Shortly after leaving home, a car began tailgating them, Dolores said. As Dolores' daughter signaled to turn left, the driver of the other car tried to pass on the left, then lost control when the driver realized the vehicle ahead was turning.

The two vehicles never made contact, but the other vehicle crashed into a curb and a pole.

A man got out and started yelling at Dolores and her daughter, who waited at the scene for police to arrive, Dolores said.

Dolores said she didn't know at the time that the other driver -- Jametski -- was apparently trapped inside.

An accident report by the King County Sheriff's Office corroborate Dolores' account and notes there was no impact between her vehicle and Jametski's 2005 Buick LaCrosse. Dolores and her daughter aren't named in the collision report.

Jametski was cited for passing in a no passing zone and contested the infraction, but it's unclear from King County District Court records if or how the case was resolved.

During the Facebook video, the woman purported to be Jametski says she's planning to sue Delores and her family. But there's no indication in court records that Jametski has filed a lawsuit.

Near the beginning of the video, Jametski allegedly says she was on her way to a therapy appointment when she decided to follow her neighbor instead. At one point, she talks about how she'd like to ram the car in front of her.

"You get a super good look, everybody. This is what it calls (sic) to be Spanish privileged in America, yeah, this is what we call Spanish privileged and she's going right to where I used to live. Welcome to my neighborhood."

Later at the school, Jametski allegedly uses a racial slur and tells Dolores: "You have no freakin' right to go to this school, you don't even have a right to be in this country. You totaled my car and I'm going to have great privilege in suing your (expletive)."

Dolores said after viewing the video, she felt unsafe.

"Why else film it live and put it on Facebook unless she was planning to do something or riling somebody up to do something?" Adriana asked. "She's putting a target on us."

Dolores hopes other people of color won't hesitate to call 911 to report a hate crime as she initially did.

"If we don't report a crime, the police won't know what is happening and can't do anything," she said. "We immigrate because we want a better country for our kids. ... This is a beautiful country of immigrants."

(c)2017 The Seattle Times

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