PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former restaurant owner faced a judge Monday on charges he assaulted a former employee and a police officer over the weekend.
A group called Fuerza Laboral protested outside Juan Noboa’s Julian Street home early Saturday morning, claiming their former employer failed to pay them their full wages in 2014 when they were working at Cafe Atlantic.
One of the protesters, Flor Salazar, claims Noboa hit her three times with a baseball bat after she knocked on his door.
“We believe he was pre-advised that we were going to be there, that him assaulting me with a bat was a premeditated action, because when we rang the doorbell peacefully he was already prepared with a bat in his hands,” Salazar said through an interpreter outside court Monday.
Many of the protesters were in court, and said Noboa had no reason to attack.
Salazar said she and her fellow employees are owed anywhere between $500 and $7,000. According to records from Fuerza Laboral, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training ordered Noboa to pay Salazar $2,000, plus interest, but she said she’s yet to see a check.
“That is why we fight, that is why we risk getting assaulted, that is why we go out and work every day – because we have a dream to provide for our families and our children,” Salazar added through her translator.
According to the police report obtained by Eyewitness News, officers arrived at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday and began questioning those on scene. Police said Noboa acted defensive and denied he had a bat, then pushed one of the officers and ran back into his home.
The officers chased Noboa inside and were able to restrain him following a physical struggle, the report stated.
Police said an eyewitness later showed them a photo on her phone of Salazar getting struck with the bat.
Noboa, 41, shook his head throughout his arraignment Monday. His attorney argued for low bail, saying the 10 to 15 protesters were at his home in the dark and scared Noboa.
Noboa is charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon and simple assault of a police officer. His bail was set at $5,000 with surety, and Eyewitness News learned he’s also a Superior Court violator on a previous drug charge.