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New York Couple Evade Police for Weeks After Attacking Black Hotel Worker In Connecticut, Fleeing State from Under Cops’ Noses

A couple who attacked a 59-year-old Black hotel worker in Connecticut last month have been arrested and face assault, bigotry, and bias charges. The attack happened on June 26 and was captured by hotel security cameras. The New York couple, Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 29, were taken into custody by the NYPD and U.S. Marshals on Monday, July 13.

Crystal Caldwell, an employee of the Quality Inn in Mystic, Connecticut, was attacked by the pair, who had been staying in the hotel. On the surveillance footage, the couple can be seen hitting Caldwell and knocking her to the ground. The attack continued until a third party intervened.

Photo: Surveillance screenshot.

Sarner faces charges of second- and third-degree assault, while Orbay will be charged with two counts of third-degree assault. Each faces charges of intimidation based on bigotry and bias. Caldwell says the couple called her “monkey” repeatedly during the attack.

The attack reportedly occurred after Sarner, a white man, called down to the front desk, complaining that the hot water in his room was not working. Caldwell said she could send a repairman or move the couple to a different room. According to the hotel worker, Sarner then threatened to send his girlfriend downstairs to “kick her a-s.” After Caldwell hung up on the man, he came down to the front desk.

As the hotel executive manager and housekeeper spoke to Sarner, he threatened Caldwell. When she responded, the man began to attack her. She was punched in the head several times, and suffered a concussion, swollen face, and injured eye as a result of the blows.

Caldwell says that after the police arrived she went into the hallway to get ice for her face and the couple ganged up on her a second time, pushing her to the ground and kicking her, injuring her ribs. Caldwell reported that during this attack the couple said: “Black lives matter? Your life doesn’t matter, you don’t deserve to live on this earth.”

Authorities called allegations that they were on the scene when the second attack occurred “completely false.” The two attacks occurred about four minutes apart.

Caldwell’s family has complained that Sarner and Orbay were not arrested on site, but officers say that after reviewing a portion of the surveillance footage they were not able to enter the emergency room — Sarner and Orbay had sought medical treatment in a local hospital after the melee — to arrest the couple due to coronavirus precautions. Police say Sarner and Orbay evaded them on the day of the attack by leaving the hospital via a Lyft ride and picking up their car at the hotel to make their way back to New York.

Arrest warrants were obtained for the couple on July 1, and they were apprehended in Brooklyn, New York, on July 13 and extradited to Connecticut. Both were released on bond by early the next morning.

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