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Nevada governor seeks no prosecution in restaurant encounter

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak arrives with his wife, Kathy
Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File
FILE - Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak arrives with his wife, Kathy, to deliver his State of the State address at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s governor says he doesn’t want two men prosecuted for accosting him and his family last month at a Las Vegas restaurant and shouting profanities, taunts and anti-government statements in an incident captured on video and posted on the internet.

In a statement released Monday, Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was “outraged at the ethnic slurs and threats aimed at my wife” and he “cannot forget or forgive the vulgar and foul language hurled at my daughter.”

But the Democrat now campaigning for a second term as governor said he asked Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson not to pursue charges “that could arise from the abusive and menacing treatment.”

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“I feel an obligation to avoid further fueling, and at worst, glorifying the anger and violence plaguing our nation and our state,” the statement said, adding a trial would only draw more attention.

“This statement stands as my final comment about this horrible incident,” Sisolak added.

Wolfson said he met with the governor and would honor Sisolak’s request not to prosecute.

Cellphone video posted to social media showed more than a minute of the Feb. 28 encounter involving the Sisolaks and Justin Andersch, a self-described “digital creator” who promotes far-right anti-government conspiracy theories.

Andersch asks to take a photo with Sisolak, poses with his arm around him, and then begins calling the governor a string of epithets.

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As Sisolak and his wife, Kathy, turn and head out the door of the restaurant, Andersch follows and is joined by another man who calls Sisolak a traitor before returning to the restaurant.

The video ends in the parking lot as Sisolak’s daughter, Ashley Sisolak, a lawyer and public defender, rushes to the governor and his wife near their vehicle and Andersch turns away.

The incident followed several other suspected hate-crimes in recent months in Nevada and Las Vegas. An elected official in rural Nye County declared last August without evidence that Kathy Sisolak had family members in China profiting from selling coronavirus pandemic-related items.

The claim echoed a recurrent conspiracy theory espoused by some Republicans and anti-Sisolak, anti-mask activists.

Kathy Sisolak is a former municipal finance specialist of Chinese heritage who was born in the Nevada town of Ely. She was budget manager for Clark County and was a founder of the Las Vegas financial consulting firm Hobbs, Ong & Associates before she and Steve Sisolak married in 2018.