Arkansas Oaklawn Casino Confrontation Leads Alleged Assailant to Quit Firefighter Job

Posted on: April 8, 2021, 07:44h. 

Last updated on: April 9, 2021, 10:05h.

A racist rant and violence toward an Asian-American man at an Arkansas casino has been followed by the alleged assailant quitting his job and pleading not guilty in court to two related charges.

The victim encouraged other Asian Americans to speak out
Benjamin Snodgrass shown here. He recently quit his job as a Bentonville, Ark. fire captain. That follows an incident at Oaklawn Casino where he allegedly assaulted and made racial comments to an Asian American man. (Image: KHBS)

Benjamin Snodgrass, 44, who was a Bentonville, Ark. fire captain, also said in a statement he “expressed regret” and apologized for the March 13 incident which took place at Oaklawn Casino in Hot Springs.

Snodgrass resigned effective March 23. He worked at the department for more than 13 years. Snodgrass was released from the Garland County Jail on March 14. He posted a $1,500 bond.

The victim, Liem Nguyen, was given a no-contact order by a local judge on March 19. That prevents Snodgrass from approaching him. Snodgrass was charged with third-degree battery and public intoxication. He is next scheduled to appear in court on May 6.

The incident began when Snodgrass approached Nguyen as he was waiting for an Uber ride outside the gaming property.

I’m going to kill you and kill your kind of people,” Snodgrass reportedly told Nguyen, according to an interview the victim gave KHBS, a local TV station.

Snodgrass also allegedly told him, “Your kind of people is not supposed to be here,” Nguyen said. Snodgrass then attacked Nguyen. Nguyen fought back.

“He kept on pushing me, pushing me, grabbed me. So, I have to defend myself by hitting him,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen Encourages Speak Out

“I want to speak up for other Asian community [members],  other Asian people in this state, that if something happens to you, speak up,” Nguyen told KTHV, another local TV station.

Don’t hide from it…. You can’t hide from people like this.”

After the altercation, Snodgrass’ eyes were bloodshot and watery. He also smelled like alcohol, according to a police report quoted by local media. Snodgrass appeared incoherent and complained of the situation in the casino.

When asked about the confrontation, Snodgrass replied, “I don’t know guys, I’m hammered.” This statement was recorded by police body cams.

Snodgrass confirmed he confronted the Asian man about not being American. But initially he denied anything else took place.

Snodgrass had a bloody left earlobe, bloody lips, and redness on his knuckles, police said. Nguyen suffered a red mark below his left eye, a scratch on his right knee, and his shirt was ripped open.

Hate Crime Law Needed in Arkansas

An attorney representing Nguyen, Julie Roper, released a statement to KTHV that Arkansas should implement a hate crime law. It is one of only three US states which does not have stricter penalties for those convicted of hate crimes.

The circumstances of this violent attack, and threat to kill the victim, would fit the most stringent standard of proof, that this crime was hate motivated and it should be punishable under a higher sentencing standard.”

Both Roper and Nguyen want state legislators to recall the incident at the casino when considering a bill that would establish a hate crime law. reached out to Bentonville city officials and a casino spokesperson for additional comment this week. Neither offered an immediate response.