BY D. Beasley
A Kern County man is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from an alleged hate crime in which he fired a weapon and shouted racial slurs at a Black man Feb. 27.
Dennis James Knippel, 51, of Weldon, is charged with two felony counts of assault and one misdemeanor count of violating civil rights by force. He is being held in the Kern County jail with bond set at $150,000, Kern County Sheriff’s Department records show.
A judge earlier this month dismissed a third felony charge of violating the alleged victim’s civil rights by causing violent injury, a release issued on the Bakersfield Californian website said.
Knippel allegedly shouted a racial slur at the alleged victim, Daemeian Delanelemon, who is an African American. Delanelemon was in his driveway when Knippel approached in an off-road three-wheeled vehicle, the Californian reported.
“I got something for you,” Knippel allegedly said, according to Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Enrique Plaza, the release stated. Knippel left but later returned, allegedly yelling another racial slur and firing a pistol at Delanelemon.
In a later search of Knippel and his vehicle, police found a BB gun but no firearm, the release said. Prosecutors noted that a BB gun does qualify as a firearm but contend it was not the weapon used in the incident.
A neighbor allegedly heard the racial slurs and a “muffled sound” which prosecutors say was a gun being discharged. At a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Knippel’s attorney, George Kadifa, contended that the sound could have been a car backfiring. He also pointed out that police did not find a bullet or a firearm.
Dep. Plaza testified at the preliminary hearing that he found a small hole in a metal shed at Delanelemon’s house, but he did not look for a bullet, the Californian reported. The deputy also testified that Knippel and Delanelemon had a history of conflict: Knippel had previously broken windows at Delanelemon’s home and on his vehicle, and Delanelemon had previously beaten up Knippel.
Delanelemon was served a subpoena for the preliminary hearing but did not appear, the release said. According to Kadifa, Knippel’s attorney, Delanelemon did not want his name included on the police report and did not want to go to court.