Officers responded at about 7:22 p.m. Wednesday to a report of a fight in progress in the common area of an apartment complex in the 1900 block of California Street.
Arriving officers learned that a 20 year-old man from Sunnyvale and his 20 year-old girlfriend, a resident of Palo Alto, were standing outside of the complex in a parking area when a purple van drove up to them and stopped.
A man emerged from the passenger side of the van, smashed a beer bottle on the ground and then approached the victim and his girlfriend. When the couple, who are black, began to walk into the complex towards a friend's apartment, the suspect followed them, yelled a racial slur at them and threw a can of beer at the male victim, according to police.
The can did not hit the victim, but by the time he and his girlfriend made it to the front door of their friend's apartment, the suspect had caught up to them and punched the victim in the face, police said.
In response, the victim fought back in defense and the commotion prompted other residents of that apartment unit to come outside to try to break it up.
The victim's girlfriend called 911 and the suspect ran back towards the van, according to police.
At about 9:50 p.m., a patrol officer in that area spotted the purple van and contacted the driver as he was getting out of the van. Officers determined that he lived at the complex and matched the suspect description.
The suspect, identified as Humberto Pineda, 26, was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County jail for assault with a deadly weapon, hate crime, battery, driving while under the influence and driving on a suspended driver's license and for violating his probation terms.