SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane man says he was attacked early Saturday morning because he is gay, but police called the incident a “bar fight gone bad” and refused to classify the attack as a hate crime.
Danny Hawkins, a gay rights advocate and board member of OutSpokane, said he was assaulted after leaving a popular gay bar in downtown Spokane.
He said he and his partner left the bar and were in a nearby parking lot when he thought a car was going to hit him.
“I hit their car to say ‘Hey, don’t run us over’ and at that point they got mad,” he said.
The driver got out and beat Hawkins, leaving him with a black eye, a laceration on his head and a sprained ankle.
The man asked him if he was gay before continuing to assault him and calling him a derogatory name based on his sexual orientation, Hawkins said.
Spokane Police, however, said there is nothing to indicate Hawkins was beat up because of his sexual orientation.
The officers on scene noted in their report that Hawkins was intoxicated and there were no witnesses to the crime to corroborate his story that the man who beat him up was yelling gay slurs.
Some residents have suggested the police department simply does not want to deal with a hate crime.
“That’s absolutely false,” said Spokane police spokesman Tim Moses. “We take these crimes very seriously. We always investigate malicious harassment crimes to the fullest extent– we did so this time.”
KXLY-TV reports that members of the LGBT Center in North Spokane plan to talk to the police ombudsman on Tuesday. The department, acknowledging Hawkins’ concerns, have handed over his report to Major Crimes detectives for a review.