Mistakenly released suspect in racial attack of missionary back behind bars

Local News

SPANISH FORK (ABC4 News) –  A man accused of a racially motivated attack on a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary was back behind bars Wednesday, nearly two months after he was mistakenly allowed to bail out of jail.

According to court documents, when 19-year-old Sebastian West and several other men encountered the black, Panamanian missionary in Payson on January 28th, they took his cell phone, called him the N word and said “Go back to slavery” as they punched and kicked him in the head. They did not assault his white companion.

Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon calls the attack inexcusable.

“In this case, we’re talking an LDS missionary, a minister essentially, clearly identified as a missionary and apparently or allegedly because of his skin color is attacked by Mr. West and others,” Sgt. Cannon told ABC4 News. “That’s very, very disturbing.” 

Weeks later, West and two others were arrested and booked into jail on felony assault charges but the very next day West bailed out for just $2500 when he wasn’t supposed to be released at any price.

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“On March 3rd the judge issued an order that Mr. West was to be held without bail,” Sgt. Cannon said. “He bailed out on the 4th but the jail staff had not yet received that order from the court so there was an error. Why exactly it was not received here we do not know.”

Sgt. Cannon calls it a “communication error” between the courts and the jail but after word of the mistake got out, the judge issued a $25,000 warrant and members of the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team tracked West down and re-arrested him Tuesday night, this time probably for a longer stay in the Utah County Jail.

“If somebody will do that kind of thing once you have to assume they will do it again…so we’re glad to have him here,” Sgt. Cannon said. “I think the public can rest at ease at least for now that he’s in custody and not likely to get out anytime soon.”

West is scheduled to have a court appearance Tuesday, June 2nd. His older brother Malachi and a man named Nathan Thomas are also charged in the attack. They each have court dates later in June.

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