Man Accused of Using Car to Hit Disabled Vet Who Asked Him to Pick up His Trash Turns Himself In: Gardena Police

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A man who was allegedly captured on surveillance video assaulting a disabled veteran with his car in Gardena over the summer turned himself in to authorities on Tuesday, police said.

Rafael Newell, 30, was identified as a suspect more than a month after the Aug. 30 incident, but had evaded officials until this week.

Rafael Newell is seen in a driver's license photo released by Gardena police on Sept. 26, 2018.
Rafael Newell is seen in a driver's license photo released by Gardena police on Sept. 26, 2018.

In a Facebook post, Gardena police credited social media with helping to bring him into custody, though the circumstances under which Newell turned himself in are unclear.

The victim in the case, Joshua Byrd, previously told KTLA the driver even threw bottles of pee at him after Byrd confronted him about picking up garbage he had thrown in the street.

Byrd, who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Army, was out walking his service dog in the 13000 block of Cimarron Avenue when he noticed the littering.

According to Byrd, the man now identified as Newell didn't respond when asked to pick it up, so Byrd put it on his hood.

Newell at first just lingered in the area, but soon grabbed the trash and threw it back into the street, the veteran said. He then allegedly started cursing, driving in circles and eventually "threw a couple bottles of pee at" Byrd, who said they did not make contact.

The victim said he then tried to take a photo of the vehicle, but Newell allegedly struck him while driving about 35 to 40 mph.

The veteran fractured his arm and suffered several cuts, while the driver fled the scene, officials said.

The case was being investigated as an assault with a deadly weapon, and Gardena police said they expect Newell to face charges.

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