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Lincoln City Councilmember Lauritsen responds to calls to resign after debate incident | Update

City Councilman William Lauritsen told ABC10 he does not plan to resign.

LINCOLN, Calif. — The Lincoln City Council is calling for City Councilman William Lauritsen to resign after he is being accused of hitting a local businessman. 

On Monday, April 25, while attending California's 3rd Congressional District Candidate Forum, Matthew Oliver who owns businesses in Lincoln and Roseville, approached Lauritsen while filming on Facebook live to discuss his thoughts on the forum and ask Lauritsen questions. 

After some back and forth between the two, things suddenly took a turn. The Facebook live video shows Lauritsen grabbing Oliver's phone for a brief moment before handing it back, but Oliver told ABC10 he never expected to experience what he says happened next.

"Once I got it (the phone) back, I said 'He just assaulted me' and he goes, 'That wasn't an assault. This is an assault' and then he smacks me on the face.' I wasn't prepared for it, he was behind me, it completely shook me," Oliver said.

Lauritsen told ABC10 that Oliver's characterization isn't true and he only demonstrated an actual slap after being accused of assault by Oliver — saying that Oliver pushed the phone in his face and hit his nose. Oliver says that's false.

"The whole point was he said I was assaulting him. I said 'No, that's not assault. If I went like this' and I didn't hit him, I said 'That would be assault' and we were both laughing so I don't really know what his problem was," Lauritsen said.

Lincoln Mayor Holly Andreatta said the councilman's actions were "very unfortunate, very horrific."

"We are all so embarrassed and humiliated by that and we have been working on this since that night and taking action to address it," Andreatta said.

At a city council meeting on April 26, Oliver spoke about the altercation, highlighting the comments Lauritsen allegedly made about his adopted son who is Filipino.

"I am absolutely horrified that he is allowed to sit here today after he physically assaulted me and he made racist attacks on my child, telling him that 'he needed to be deported and he doesn't belong in the United States,'" Oliver said in his statement at the council meeting. 

Lauritsen disputes Oliver's claim.

"No, I did not say that. He came up to me and said because I was arguing with his father that I'm not a real American. I guess because I'm a Democrat, and I said 'Of course, I'm a real American, are you a real American' that's it. I never said he should be deported and anything else, I didn't even know he was Filipino," Lauritsen said.

Andreatta said legally the council could not exclude Lauritsen from the council meeting, which is why he was allowed to attend. The city council had an emergency closed session on April 27 to further discuss the matter.

The city released a statement, saying at its April 27th meeting, city staff were directed to "prepare a resolution of censure." 

"The motion for censure will include a statement of charges and a resolution, which will be heard during general business at the next regular meeting of the City Council on May 10, 2022. Councilmember Lauritsen will have an opportunity at that meeting to defend his conduct," the letter from the city reads.

Oliver said he interviewed multiple people on Facebook live at the forum without issues including Sheriff Scott Jones, former Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler and the Mayor of Rocklin Bill Halldin.

The council is demanding that Lauritsen resign.

"No, I'm not going to resign," Lauritsen said. "If they wanted to reprimand me for jostling with Oliver that's fine, but saying they're going to take me off all committees and everything else, this is just too far."

At Tuesday's city council meeting Lauritsen was not allowed to comment on the matter but said he would not resign while Andreatta was speaking.

"What we all believe is that in the span of 15 minutes he just broke the trust that we have built because people are appalled and it doesn't matter who instigated, it doesn't matter if somebody was egging somebody on, it doesn't matter you cannot behave that way. And to physically strike somebody and then say a bunch of things — it's not acceptable, and it has done a lot of damage to all of the work that we have done over the last several years. So I'm upset about it," Andreatta said.

The matter will continue to be discussed during the council meeting on May 10, where Andreatta said they are looking at removing Lauritsen from his appointments, meetings, events and other commitments.

"We can't trust him to represent us in any way," Andreatta said.

Several residents have also called for Lauritsen to resign and Andreatta said the recall process must be initiated by the public and can be started by contacting the city clerk.

Lauritsen will have a chance to address the allegations at the May 10 meeting.

Oliver told ABC 10 he filed a police report following the incident.

(Editor's Note: This story was updated Friday with comments from Lauritsen  and Oliver.)

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