‘I never thought it would happen to me’ – Asian man speaks out after alleged assault by Bentonville fire captain

Local News

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – A man in Hot Springs says he was assaulted at Oaklawn Casino for being Asian.

Liem Nguyen, says he was waiting for his Uber outside the casino when he was attacked.

“I never would have thought I would be in a situation,” said Nguyen. “I’m scared now to go out.”

Nguyen says while waiting, a Caucasian man began harassing him and making threatening remarks.

“He comes walking back at me, telling me he’s going to kill me and my kind of people and put a hold on me and that’s when I defend myself,” recalled Nguyen.

According to Hot Springs Police, the man on the other side of the fight was Benjamin Snodgrass, 44, a Fire Captain with the Bentonville Fire Department.

Snodgrass was arrested and charged for battery after the fight with Nguyen outside of Oaklawn Casino.

Benjamin Snodgrass was charged with misdemeanor third-degree battery and public intoxication for the incident that occurred around 9:30 p.m. on March 13.

According to the Nguyen, 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, Nguyen 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.

“I never thought it would happen to me personally because I speak English perfectly and I spoke English to him perfectly,” said Nguyen. “It’s 2021. It doesn’t matter– people are people, that’s it there’s no difference.”

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 administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort sent us the following statement:

Our surveillance department was notified by one of its team members crossing Central Avenue of a possible disturbance on the sidewalk in front of Oaklawn between the Crosswalk Bar & Grill and Oaklawn. Our security team was dispatched to investigate. Once on the scene, our security team verified there was an incident and immediately called the Hot Springs Police Department. Once officers arrived, they handled the situation from there. Oaklawn takes safety in and around our facility very seriously. 

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