Portland man accused of punching 5-year-old girl and her father now held without bail

A man from Portland, Oregon, facing a slew of charges after allegedly punching a 36-year-old Japanese man and his 5-year-old daughter is now being held without bail.

Dylan J. Kesterson, 34, was first arrested shortly after the incident on Saturday afternoon, which occurred along Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade and was reportedly witnessed by several bystanders.

The father, his daughter and his wife were riding bikes when Kesterson allegedly approached them and began yelling anti-Asian slurs.

The father said Kesterson then hit him “more than 50 times” in the head before turning to his daughter and punching her helmet-protected head several times.

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Kesterson, who had no prior convictions, was released later that day in accordance with Multnomah County’s new guidelines for pretrial detention, which state that a person accused of a first-degree bias crime can only be held if they were previously convicted in the past three years.

However, prosecutors attempted to reverse the decision on Tuesday, filing new charges and arguing that Kesterson had committed a “violent felony” and was ineligible for pretrial supervision.

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The judge reportedly agreed with the prosecutors. When Kesterson failed to show up to his arraignment hearing on Wednesday morning, an arrest warrant came into effect.

An off-duty officer reportedly spotted Kesterson in the afternoon and called for backup. Kesterson was arrested for the second time and booked into the Multnomah County Jail once again.

Kesterson was back in court on Thursday. He is now being held without bail until a hearing.

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In a statement on Thursday, Mayor Ted Wheeler criticized the city’s criminal justice system for initially releasing Kesterson.

“It is outrageous that someone accused of a violent bias crime against a parent and a child would be released before appearing in front of a judge,” Wheeler noted. “Portland police should not have to arrest someone twice in a situation like this.”

The mayor added, “The criminal justice system needs to be reviewed from top to bottom to ensure that individuals like this are not released prematurely. I am asking the District Attorney to pursue maximum charges in this case.”

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Kesterson has been charged with fourth-degree assault, second-degree attempted assault, third-degree attempted assault, two counts of first-degree bias crime, second-degree bias crime and harassment. He previously pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The victimized family has since returned to their home in California. In a statement, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) thanked the bystanders who helped the family and lauded them as “heroes.”

“We are grateful for the swift intervention of the people in the vicinity of the attack who represent the true hearts of Portland residents,” Portland JACL President Jeff Matsumoto said.

“Like the vast majority of Portland residents,” he continued, “we are appalled at the racist attack that occurred as yet another example of anti-Asian bias and hatred which we call upon all our fellow citizens to condemn and intervene when they see it happening.”

Featured Image via KGW News