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Portland police arrest man accused of anti-Asian attack after he failed to show up in court

An arrest warrant was issued for Dylan Kesterson one day after his alleged victim urged a judge to put him behind bars.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Police arrested a suspect in an anti-Asian attack after he failed to appear in court. A Multnomah Count Circuit Court Judge issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday. 

Dylan Kesterson, 34, is charged with assault and multiple counts of bias crime. Police said Kesterson assaulted a 5-year-old girl and her father of Japanese descent after making comments about their race.

On Tuesday, the attack victim urged a judge to put Kesterson behind bars. The defendant had been released just hours after his arrest.

“This is a very horrible experience for us and if he’s released, we believe a lot of Japanese and other Asians will be injured,” warned the victim, who asked KGW not release his name, fearing retaliation.

So why was Kesterson released in the first place?

Court records, along with statements from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, Portland Police Bureau and Chief Criminal Judge Cheryl Albrecht, help provide a timeline in the case.

On Saturday, Portland police arrested Kesterson after he allegedly yelled anti-Asian slurs, then attacked a father and his 5-year old daughter as they were riding a bike on the Eastbank Esplanade. Officers booked Kesterson in the Multnomah County jail on bias crime in the first degree, a felony, and bias crime in the second degree, a misdemeanor.

Kesterson was released from jail after an assessment by Multnomah County Department of Community Justice pretrial services.

RELATED: Hate and bias incidents reported to Oregon hotline surged 134% in second half of 2020

“Decisions on whether to release people before arraignment are made based on a combination of the constitutional presumption of innocence and pre-trial release, state statutes governing release, and a new presiding judge order effective July 1 that follows guidelines from the Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice,” explained Chief Criminal Judge Cheryl Albrecht.

Judge Albrecht said Kesterson had no prior criminal history. “According to court records, this person had no arrests or convictions of any type and so qualified for conditional release prior to arraignment,” wrote Albrecht in a statement to KGW.

On Tuesday, following the holiday weekend, the Multnomah County DA’s office reviewed the case and filed more serious assault and bias crime charges — which allow for pretrial detention.

At his arraignment on Tuesday, a judge ordered Kesterson, who was on the phone, to appear in person the following day.

RELATED: ‘We felt we might be killed’: Victim of alleged anti-Asian bias crime describes being punched 50 times; 5-year-old daughter hit in the head

Wednesday, prosecutors had planned to request that Kesterson be returned to custody and held without bail, but he never showed up in court.

A judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Police released Kesterson’s photo and asked the public to assist in locating the bias crime suspect. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon.

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