A California gay couple was attacked during Pride weekend in midtown Sacramento’s LGBTQ-friendly Lavender Heights district. The couple was enjoying a night out at Kiki’s Chicken Place before a homophobic man began attacking the pair because of a discarded cigarette.
In a video, it can be seen that the perpetrator of the attack threw a punch landing on one of the victims before a brawl broke out involving several of the restaurant’s patrons. Customers of the establishment broke up the fight before the attacker could do even more damage to the couple.
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After the incident, the couple immediately gave a statement to police to investigate the attacker who had disappeared after customers had intervened in the fight. Now, the couple is speaking out about the attack and the ongoing investigation.
“I’m just hoping for justice. I’m hoping there is someone out there who can help identify who these people are,” Derek, one of the victims, told ABC 10.
The search for the suspect is still ongoing, so the victims have not gone public with their last names or images. The only problem is that Sacramento PD has suspended their case.
“I’m mostly upset at Sac PD (Sacramento Police Department) at the moment, due to the fact that there are plenty of leads. I would like more attention from Sac PD. I would like them to re-open the case and do something about it,” the second victim, Jose, said in a statement.
Police have confirmed that the investigation was briefly closed but has now since been reopened. Police said the case will be investigated by detectives assigned to the Bias Crimes Task Force. This task force specifically looks at hate crimes and Derek and Jose’s case qualifies as a hate crime against LGBTQ people.
“As a department, we take all allegations of bias-related crime seriously and remain committed to conducting a comprehensive investigation into this incident,” Sacramento Police Department said in a statement.
The couple discusses the fear they experienced when enjoying a regular night out in their favorite neighborhood.
“It’s scary to think about going out at night to a restaurant or for a drink and not feeling comfortable in the city you are living in,” Derek said.
The couple said this started when a customer at Kiki’s Chicken Place threw a cigarette on the ground.
“I don’t like litterbugs,” Jose said. “So, I went and picked it up and threw it away inside the restaurant. He started approaching me with a very intimidating attitude. He started telling me if I had a problem to let him know because he can go ahead and smoke us both.”
The situation escalated when the perpetrator began shouting gay slurs at Derek and Jose, and the attacker, seen on the video provided by the couple, is shown punching Derek in the face.
Jose is seen jumping up and fighting back. He ended up covered in blood with scratches, bruises, and a broken nose. The couple said they filed a police report after the incident on Friday only to learn the case was suspended days later for a so-called lack of evidence.
Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester called the couple to speak to them directly. Now that the case has been reopened, the hope is that Derek and Jose will receive the justice they deserve.