standing Stonington Police Department

STONINGTON — Local police and a family attorney are seeking help from the public in locating a New York couple wanted in connection with an allegedly racially-motivated assault on a Black employee in Mystic in late June.

Stonington police obtained a warrant for the couple, identified as identified as Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 28, on July 1. The department and Attorney M. John Strafaci, who represents victim Chrystal Caldwell and her family, issued a joint press release Monday afternoon asking for assistance in locating the couple.

"Sarner and Orbay do not have permanent addresses, but are known to be primarily in Nassau County," the joint release said. "Authorities in New York are actively checking known addresses and associates of both suspects in an attempt to locate them."

Sarner is expected to face charges of second-degree assault and Orbay will face charges of third-degree assault, Stonington police said. The department had obtained an extraditable warrant after the couple evaded officers and returned to New York shortly after the incident, which took place June 26 at the Quality Inn Mystic on Whitehall Avenue.

Stonington police said last week that officers were dispatched to the hotel after the department received two 911 calls reporting an assault of a hotel worker, later identified as Caldwell. While officers were on their way to the hotel, the police said a second, more violent attack occurred involving the suspects and Caldwell.

Officers met with Caldwell in the parking lot following the second assault and were speaking with her when officers were notified that Sarner and Orbay were also in the parking lot. Officers located the two and spoke with them as well. All three complained of injuries, and Caldwell was taken to Pequot Health Center while Sarner and Orbay were taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London.

Stonington police said officers attempted to stay with the couple, but were told by the hospital that due to COVID-19 procedures, the officer would not be able to wait inside the facility. The two were eventually released before police were notified and were able to take a Lyft back to the hotel, where they took their car and left before officers were able to speak with them again.

"Since the incident, police and hospital management have discussed and resolved protocols related to the COVID pandemic," Stonington police said in a press release last week.

The department continued to investigate and on Monday, June 29, the agency received surveillance footage showing the incident. The footage included both video of the attack as well as video of the suspects returning to the hotel at 2:19 p.m. in the Lyft, immediately getting into their car and leaving. It took the suspects less than a minute to get in their car, and the police said they did not retrieve their belonging from in the hotel.

The police said last week that they have sought charges related to bigotry and bias in their application for an arrest warrant, but the New London State's Attorney is seeking only assault charges at this time. The department is continuing to work with police partners in New York, as well as with the FBI Civil Rights Division on the case.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Sarner or Orbay is asked to contact their local police department or the Stonington Police Department at 860-599-4411.

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