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Police seeking N.Y. couple accused of racist attack at Connecticut hotel that was caught on video

Crystal Boyd Caldwell, 59, says the suspects, Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 28, beat her twice and hurled racial slurs at her during both assaults.

Police are searching for a New York couple accused of assaulting a 59-year-old hotel worker in Connecticut while hurling racial slurs.

Police have issued warrants for Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 28. Each faces assault charges, as well as a charge of intimidation based on bigotry and bias. Sarner and Orbay have no permanent addresses but are known to be primarily in Nassau County on Long Island, Stonington police said.

They are accused of attacking Crystal Caldwell, a Black desk clerk, at a Quality Inn on June 26 after complaining about a lack of hot water in their room.

Police said they received two 911 calls at approximately 11:30 a.m. reporting a physical disturbance at the Quality Inn.

The first call came from a colleague of Caldwell's, according to NBC Connecticut.

The woman tells a dispatcher that a guest was "beating up on my desk clerk" and "he is smacking my desk clerk around," the outlet reported. Another voice is heard in the background of the call saying, "I want him arrested now."

A short time later, police received a call from a hotel guest who has been identified as one of the suspects. "I was just assaulted by staff," Sarner says. A dispatcher asks, "How did they assault you?" He replies, "punching my head. It's on camera."

Hotel surveillance video shows Sarner and Orbay approach Caldwell while she is near an ice machine. Sarner punches her, shoves her to the ground and appears to kick her in the head while she is on the floor. The couple then walk off, Caldwell gets up and two of her colleagues come to her aid.

Caldwell's attorney, M. John Strafaci, said she sustained a severe concussion, as well as injuries to her right eye, back and knees. Caldwell did not immediately return a request for an interview Friday. Strafaci said in a phone interview Friday that Caldwell asked that he speak on her behalf.

Caldwell told NBC Connecticut that the attack caught on video was the second time she was assaulted that day by Sarner and Orbay. She said they also called her a racial slur.

"When he was stomping me and the girl stopped, she said, 'The monkey's had enough,'" Caldwell told NBC Connecticut.

Caldwell also said: "Every second, every minute, I can see his foot just coming and stomping me. There's no down time from it, right now mentally."

Sarner, Orbay and Caldwell requested medical attention and were taken to separate hospitals. Police said they were unable to monitor the couple. Police said they interviewed two witnesses who work at the hotel the day of the incident. From those witness accounts, police said, they established probable cause to charge both guests in the incident.

Sarner and Orbay later returned to the hotel, retrieved their car and left the state, police said.

Sarner faces second-degree and third-degree assault charges. Orbay faces third-degree assault charges.

Police said the arrest warrants were issued after they finished reviewing all of the evidence, including security video of the incident. Captain Todd Olson said Stonington police are working with police in New York and the FBI’s Civil Rights Division to locate the suspects.

Caldwell's attorney said she was not interviewed until June 30, four days after the episode.

"It was terrible that because of lazy police work these two dangerous people were allowed to drive back to New York and now Crystal has to worry that these two people are still on the loose and that they could do anything," Strafaci said.

If the Stonington police had done their job properly on June 26, Strafaci said, Caldwell "wouldn't be going through all this and these people would have been arrested and in jail and facing the serious charges that they deserve to face."

In response to Strafaci's statements, Captain Olson said Friday, "You have the information that we are releasing at this time."