An active duty Marine has been arrested after a confrontation in an Iraqi restaurant Friday.
On April 22, Marine sergeant major Damien T. Rodriguez was charged with misdemeanor counts for alleged actions at Dar Salam, the Iraqi restaurant owned by Ghaith and Tiffany Sahib on NE Alberta Street, according to KGW. The restaurant’s security footage shows Rodriguez picking up and hurling a chair, and Ghaith Sahib told KGW the chair hit one of his employees. “We were really sad about what happened. We feel sorry for the guy, and we feel sorry for ourselves, too,” he said.
The Sahibs allege Rodriquez and a companion walked into the restaurant on Friday, April 21, and did not order anything for an hour. They say the two men uttered racial slurs before attacking the waiter.
Rodriguez is 40 years old and served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He revealed to officers that he had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but did not say when, according to KGW.
Rodriguez was originally charged with what is considered a hate crime in Oregon: second-degree intimidation. That charge has been dropped, and a bias crime detective specializing in hate crimes has been assigned the case. The remaining misdemeanor charges include harassment and disorderly conduct.
Speaking with Eater in 2015, Ghaith Sahib said he and his mother work together in the kitchen, drawing on family recipes to share the flavors of Iraq with Portlanders. Tiffany Sahib is a Portland native, and she tells KGW both of her waiters are emotionally traumatized by the event, in addition to the physical injuries.