Man sentenced to probation following attack at Portland Iraqi re - KPTV - FOX 12

Man sentenced to probation following attack at Portland Iraqi restaurant

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A California man was sentenced to probation Friday and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution nearly a year after a shocking attack in a Portland restaurant.

Damien Rodriguez pleaded guilty to attempted assault and intimidation.

In exchange, Multnomah County prosecutors dropped some charges and agreed probation was the appropriate sentence.

Last April, surveillance video captured the disturbing scene inside DarSalam, an Iraqi restaurant in Northeast Portland.

The footage shows a man grabbing a chair, swinging it up in the air and hitting an employee over the head and shoulder.

Witnesses and restaurant employees there that night said Rodriguez and another man entered the restaurant looking for a fight, and specifically targeted the business because it was an Iraqi restaurant.  

They reported that Rodriguez seemed intoxicated and was verbally harassing a Middle Eastern employee before the violence broke out.

An employee ended up holding Rodriguez down until police came and he was arrested.

None of the employees or customers in the restaurant were hurt.

The judge ordered Rodriguez to pay $21,000 to the victims, seek treatment for PTSD, and perform 200 hours of community service, among other punishments.

In court, Rodriguez read a letter he wrote to the restaurant owners.

He said he took responsibility for his actions, was deeply sorry and that his post-traumatic stress disorder from his four combat tours of Iraq were part of the reason he lashed out.

He also made it clear that his PTSD was no excuse for what he did.

“Words will not undo what happened,” Rodriguez said. “I reacted violently and irrationally, and seemingly out of nowhere, frightened you and your patrons. I have watched the scene repeatedly and even I’m alarmed at my behavior. You should have never felt threatened or frightened of a United States Marine.”

Rodriguez expressed remorse that his crimes had forced him out of the Marines, and said that in the past year, he’s sought treatment for PTSD, stopped drinking alcohol and found God.

He said he hopes the restaurant owners and employees will forgive him.

In the letter, Rodriguez spoke about how he grew up in a multi-cultural family and helped save Iraqi civilians during the war.

The judge said it was a “remarkable case to be involved with,” and told the court that PTSD is very real.

The victims in the case were not in court, but prosecutors, the defense and judge all called them gracious and forgiving. 

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