LOS ANGELES -- A woman spoke out Tuesday after she was seen on video throwing hot coffee at a Latino contractor during a controversial confrontation at an upscale condominium complex in Southern California.
The incident took place on Aug. 4 at a building in Century City, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Rhonda Polon said she regrets the entire incident and that her only concern that day was to protect her property.
“I’m not a racist,” she said. “None of those things have ever come out of my mouth. I may have a temper at some points, but I am not a racist person.”
Polon doesn’t condone her actions in the video that has gone viral on social media and tearfully apologized for throwing coffee in the face of Miguel Sanchez, who arrived with his co-worker at the complex to perform repairs requested by one of the owners.
"She was calling us wetbacks, and that we were probably there to steal stuff," Sanchez told KTLA. "After all those racial comments on us, I got my phone out and started recording."
Polon claimed because of recent burglaries in her garage, she questioned why the two were trying to gain access to the building when she saw them outside the gate.
“There’s a lady being super racist and crazy right now. She doesn't let us in; we work here,” Sanchez could be heard saying in the video.
Sanchez said he began recording the woman after claiming she verbally attacked them with racial slurs even after showing her the garage opener and keys he reportedly received from the owner.
The incident escalated when the coffee was tossed, prompting Sanchez to contact police. But Polon said it was just in self-defense.
Officers informed Sanchez of his right to request a private person arrest against Polon, something he declined because he wasn’t seriously injured from the liquid he claims was hot.
He also added he didn’t take any action because he feared it could affect his relationship with the company contracting him.
Polon would have been detained on suspicion of misdemeanor battery, police said. She said she did not know it was considered battery, and that she just reacted and was trying to protect herself.
Since the encounter, Polon said she’s been the target of intense online harassment and threats. Several Latino groups as well as a resident from inside her building staged a protest outside her home over the weekend.
She denies ever using any racial slurs that day, insisting it was a neighbor who made the remarks. Sanchez said he stands by his statements regarding the incident.
Polon said she is hoping to set the record straight that she never meant any harm.
“I’m completely sorry for throwing the coffee,” she said. “They were now coming at me from both sides and it scared the hell out of me.”