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What we know about the Plano woman arrested after viral video of racist rant

Esmeralda Upton, 58, faces misdemeanor charges of assault and making a terroristic threat.

By Catherine Marfin

police
File photo.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

A video of a woman going on a racist rant against a group of South Asian women went viral this week, leading to the arrest of the 58-year-old woman at the center of the clip.

Esmeralda Upton faces misdemeanor charges of assault and making a terroristic threat.

Plano police were called about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday to a parking lot outside a restaurant in the 3700 block of Dallas Parkway, where witnesses said they had been attacked by a woman.

In the video of the incident, Upton is heard saying “I hate you [expletive] Indians” and threatening the group, and seen hitting the person filming her.

Upton was arrested Thursday afternoon and posted bond Friday. It is unclear whether she has an attorney.

Plano police said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Here’s what we know about the circumstances around Upton’s arrest:

Why wasn’t Upton arrested at the scene?

Plano police said in a Facebook post Friday evening that Upton was not arrested at the scene because the offense did not occur in front of responding officers.

According to the state’s Code of Criminal Procedure, officers are allowed to make arrests on misdemeanor offenses when the offenses occur in front of them, with a few exceptions.

“These offenses did not fit any exceptions,” the department said. “Therefore, officers are required to obtain an arrest warrant before Ms. Upton could be taken into custody.”

What does it mean for an incident to be investigated as a hate crime?

Plano police said on Facebook that the incident is a hate crime under Texas law.

But a hate crime is not its own offense. Instead, it’s applied to other offenses to enhance them, meaning it increases the potential punishment.

Hate crimes also can be federally prosecuted, and it’s possible for a person to be prosecuted for a crime at both the state and federal levels.

Plano police said on Facebook that the department is working with the FBI and the Department of Justice to determine whether the incident is a hate crime under federal law.

Who determines a person’s bail?

The Plano Police Department said it had received questions about Upton’s bail, which was set at $10,000 — $7,500 on the assault charge and $2,500 on the threat charge. Jail records show she was released on bond Friday.

Bail amounts are set by judges and magistrates, and the bond amount was typical for a misdemeanor offense, the department said.

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