Ex-fireman innocent, lawyer says
HOT SPRINGS — A Bentonville firefighter who resigned his position after being involved in an altercation with an Asian man outside Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort last month didn’t make racist comments, wasn’t the aggressor and was unknowingly drugged, his attorney said.
Brent Miller, attorney for Ben Snodgrass, told The Sentinel-Record of Hot Springs in a series of texts the anti-Asian allegation against his client is “laughable.”
“Snodgrass is a family
man, down in Hot Springs with his wife for their 20th wedding anniversary,” Miller said.
Snodgrass has pleaded innocent to charges of misdemeanor battery and public intoxication.
A Hot Springs police officer went to the casino at 9:31 p.m. March 13 in response to a call concerning a battery, according to a probable cause affidavit. The officer saw a man with a red mark below his left eye and a scratch on his right knee, according to the affidavit. The man’s shirt was also ripped.
Liem Nguyen said Snodgrass approached him outside the casino, asked if he knew he was in America and started pushing him. Nguyen said he hit Snodgrass with a fist in self defense because Snodgrass hit him multiple times on the face, according to the affidavit.
Snodgrass was sitting nearby talking with security personnel. The officer described Snodgrass as having bloodshot and watery eyes and a strong odor of intoxicants, according to the affidavit.
Snodgrass told the officer he didn’t know what happened. The officer continued to question Snodgrass, and he responded, “I don’t know guys. I am hammered,” according to the affidavit.
The officer asked Snodgrass what happened between him and Nguyen, and Snodgrass said he confronted the man for not being American, but said nothing happened between the two, according to the affidavit.
Snodgrass, a captain with the Bentonville Fire Department, resigned March 26.
Miller said Snodgrass never told police he confronted Nguyen because he is Asian.
“Nguyen is never heard by any law enforcement audio recording to say Snodgrass threatened to kill ‘his people’ or ‘his kind,’” Miller said.
Nguyen isn’t heard on the police body camera recording saying Snodgrass threatened to kill “his people” or “his kind,” but anti-Asian rhetoric that reportedly started the incident is mentioned consistently throughout the body camera footage, according to recordings obtained from the Police Department by The Sentinel-Record.
Miller said Oaklawn security footage shows Nguyen as the aggressor in the fight.
“I’d be curious to know the reason behind Mr. Snodgrass’ resignation from his position with the Bentonville Fire Department if he truly felt he was a victim,” said Julie Roper, Nguyen’s attorney. “There was obviously a battery,” she said.
Snodgrass was “unknowingly drugged” with MDA at the casino bar, Miller said. He said Snodgrass voluntarily submitted a urine sample to a lab and was found to have a high MDA concentration.
The sample was taken two days after Snodgrass’ arrest, Miller confirmed.
The trial is set for May 6.