A Los Angeles-area woman who was assaulted during a date with a man she met on Instagram last summer has shared her terrifying tale, hoping it will be a lesson to others.
India Ali, 32, says she met James Baker, 27, through social media and eventually felt comfortable enough to set up a date with him last July.
“He didn’t really look like a creep from his pictures. He looked like he had it going on,” Ali said.
The two decided to go out for a night on the town. Baker posted several videos on Instagram of the two out drinking at a restaurant and enjoying themselves.
Ali said she doesn’t remember leaving the restaurant with Baker or their ride back to the area around Los Angeles International Airport, but Baker posted videos of those events as well.
The two ended up in Baker’s hotel room at the Westin hotel near LAX. When Ali woke up the next morning, something was wrong.
“It was horrible. I woke up. I lifted my head up. I was lying in a puddle of throw up. So I look around and I see blood everywhere and my clothes everywhere,” Ali said.
Ali then saw her reflection in a mirror and could see how badly she had been beaten.
“Oh my God. I can’t believe that happened. What if they come back and kill me?” Ali thought.
She realized her cellphone and car keys were gone, so she used the hotel phone to call 911. A recording of the call provided to KTLA included the following interaction:
911 operator: “So they just beat you up?”
Ali: “There’s blood all over the room.”
911 operator: “Where are you hurt, ma’am?”
Ali: “I’m hurt in my face.”
Ali was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors determined she had suffered significant head injuries.
“She had been punched in the head so badly that it had caused a swelling in the brain. The brain, when it expands, has nowhere to go so it forces down – and that’s what triggers the vomit action. It pressures the fourth vertebrae,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Berger said.
Police used the Find My iPhone app to look for Ali’s cellphone. Investigators located the phone — and Baker — a few miles away, in the victim’s car at the Courtyard Los Angeles LAX in El Segundo. He was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division on July 21, inmate records show.
Surveillance video from the Westin showed Baker leaving the hotel in Ali’s car at about 2 a.m.
Investigators later found Baker had prior out-of-state convictions and was on bail for allegedly using fake credit cards, Berger said.
At the Airport Courthouse on April 14, Baker was found guilty of felony assault, auto theft and use of forged credit cards. He is being held at the downtown L.A. Men’s Central Jail, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 5.
Ali, meanwhile, is hoping her story will remind others to be cautious about who they meet online.
“I wouldn’t want anybody to go and meet up with anybody that they don’t know. Please don’t ever do that,” Ali said. “You have to value your life.”