Can’t we all just get along?

My client was a 20 year old college student out with three friends. After exiting a 7-11 store at about 3:30 am, there was an altercation that resulted in the arrest of my client and his friends for hate crime, robbery and assault. The charges were based solely upon the allegations the alleged victim made to the police. During the initial interview with my client and his friends, all four insisted the victim had in fact initiated an assault on two of them and that all they did was fend them off and be on their way. The store surveillance cameras did not cover the area on the street where the incident occurred.

We canvassed the neighborhood and located the witness who called 9-11 to report the altercation, which occurred outside his bedroom window and woke him up. The witness told me that from his perspective, the alleged victim appeared to be the aggressor and was being held back by one of the four friends as he tried to lunge at one of the others. The witness said he told the 9-1-1 operator the same thing but advised me that investigator who called to follow-up with him the following morning tried to convince him it was a racially motivated crime. The witness stated flatly, “The only time I ever heard race mentioned was when the black guy told the police, I got jumped by four white guys”. After reviewing our investigation report no charges were ever filed against my client or his friends.

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