White California man charged with hate crime in car attack on Black people

The incident left two people, including an armed security guard, injured.

July 14, 2020, 2:27 PM

A white Southern California man was jailed on $1 million bail after being charged with a hate crime stemming from an incident in which police allege he screamed racial slurs at a group of Black people before driving a car at them, injuring two, including an off-duty security guard who fired shots at the charging vehicle.

Dennis Aaron Wyman, 42, allegedly fled the confrontation last month in a hotel parking lot in Torrance, California, police said. He was arrested during a July 8 traffic stop in Redondo Beach where he lives and was charged on Monday with multiple felony counts, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The charges against Wyman were filed following a string of recent incidents across the country in which people have driven into crowds, mostly at protests, injuring multiple people and killing one Black Lives Matter protester during a freeway demonstration.

Wyman was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in serious injury. He was being held at the Los Angeles County Jail, according to online records, and is scheduled to appear in Torrance Municipal Court on Tuesday.

It was unclear if Wyman has an attorney.

PHOTO: Dennis Wyman, 42, of Redondo Beach, Calif., is pictured in a photo released by the Torrance Police Department with a press release naming him as the suspect in an alleged hate crime attack that occurred on June 29, 2020.
Dennis Wyman, 42, of Redondo Beach, Calif., is pictured in a photo released by the Torrance Police Department with a press release naming him as the suspect in an alleged hate crime attack that occurred on June 29, 2020.
Torrance Police Department

Police said Wyman was involved in an incident on June 29 at the Staybridge Suites in Torrance.

Wyman allegedly approached a small group of African Americans in the hotel's parking lot about 11:30 p.m. and allegedly began yelling racial slurs at them, according to a statement from the Torrance Police Department. The disturbance prompted a member of the group, a 23-year-old man, to call his father, who was working nearby as a security guard, police said.

The 50-year-old security guard arrived just as Wyman allegedly got into his Chevrolet El Camino and began to drive toward the crowd, police said.

The security guard, who was armed, drew his gun and fired several shots as the charging car struck him and injured another person in the group, according to police.

The driver of the El Camino then drove away from the scene.

The security guard who was struck by the car was taken to a hospital with injuries to his lower extremities, police said. Details on the injuries to the second victims were not immediately available.

The episode came amidst a series of incidents in which people have used cars to attack groups of protesters across the country.

A Black Lives Matter protester was killed and another was seriously injured on July 4 when a 27-year-old man allegedly drove onto a freeway in Seattle that had been closed due to a protest and barreled into the demonstrators at high speed, police said. The suspect, Dawit Kelete, who is Black, was charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving in the incident that left Summer Taylor, 24, dead and Diaz Love, 32, seriously injured.

On July 6, a 66-year-old white woman allegedly injured two protesters when she drove into a crowd of demonstrators in Bloomington, Indiana, and drove off. Christi Bennett was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two counts of criminal recklessness, a felony. She was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury -- a felony -- and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury, a misdemeanor.

On that same day, a 36-year-old white man was arrested after he allegedly drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Huntington Station, on New York's Long Island, injuring two demonstrators. The suspect, Anthony Cambareri, of Coram, New York, sped away but was caught a short time later, according to Suffolk County Police.

Cambareri was charged with third-degree assault and was issued a desk appearance ticket. He will be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip at a date yet to be determined.