SAN FRANCISCO (BCN/CBS SF) — Police in San Francisco on Wednesday confirmed that officers cited and released former professional boxer Pat Lawlor on suspicion of battery after punching an Asian teen outside a North Beach bar on Friday.
A viral video posted to the social media app TikTok over the weekend alleged a young man of Asian descent was struck in the face outside Gino and Carlo Cocktail Lounge at 548 Green Street.
The video was posted Sunday from the account of Sofia Enguillado, who claimed her 18-year-old son C.J. Enguillado was attacked outside the bar.
“If you’re Asian, this is the type of service you get waiting for pizza in Little Italy North Beach San Francisco,” the video alleged, showing images of the victim’s facial bruises.
The alleged incident of anti-Asian racism led to a firestorm of controversy focused on the San Francisco sports bar, with the proprietor of the family-owned establishment vehemently deny that he did or said anything racist.
Gina and Carlo owner Frank Rossi, who first spoke exclusively with KPIX 5 earlier this week, said the bar received death threats and a flood of negative online reviews after the incident.
Rossi said the man was asked to leave numerous times, not because of his race, but because it’s against city guidelines to people under age 21 in the bar’s outdoor seating area.
“I am not a racist. In fact, I kick people out of my bar when they say racist things,” said Rossi.
Rossi said the man was told, “‘You have to leave this area, you are not allowed in this area, this is our area. It’s considered inside the bar, even though it’s outside, it’s like a bar. You cannot – you’re under 21,'” said Rossi. “And he was adamant.”
That’s when Rossi says a bystander and patron of the bar — now revealed to be Lawlor — got involved and punched Enguillado.
“I went nuts when he hit him, went nuts,” said Rossi. “I could not believe he did it. There was no threat, no threat. I was completely caught off guard by it.”
Police have released few details about the battery incident, but said it did not appear racism or hate was a factor.
“We do not have evidence to believe this incident was predicated by hate,” police said in a statement.
Lawlor was a famed boxer in the 1990s, fighting champions like Hector Camacho and Roberto Duran.
In a Facebook post from Friday, the victim’s mother, identified as Sofia Enguillado, posted a picture of police speaking with Lawlor.
“This is the man that punched my son out of nowhere,” she said in captioning the photo of Lawlor talking to police. “The question is why can’t they arrest this guy?!!! Having a drink while being questioned by the police?! Unbelievable.”
C.J. Enguillado acknowledged to KPIX 5 in an interview Monday that the bar owner had told him to leave several times, after learning he was underage.
Enguillado said he refused to leave, because he was waiting for his parents to return.
“By the way it sounded, he said, ‘Get the f— out of here, you don’t belong here,” that’s what he said, and I cannot forget those words,” he said. “That’s, like, traumatizing to me.”
Following the flood of negative comments and one-star reviews for Gino And Carlo on Yelp, the rating service disabled reviews, saying that while it rejects racism, reviews must be from first-hand customer accounts.
Rossi also says he’s received a series of death threats. To the family who is accusing him of being a racist, “I want to say that they’re mistaken. Their son shouldn’t have been hit. [The man arrested] doesn’t work for us, he never did work for us. He’s just a customer. Sorry it happened, but it wasn’t racism at all, or a hate crime against Asians.”
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