Injured Man Claims Hate Crime, Police Disagree

SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane man badly beaten outside a downtown bar claims he was the victim of a hate crime, but Spokane Police say there's no evidence to prove this is anything other than an alcohol-fueled brawl.

Danny Hawkins contacted members of the Spokane media with the help of the gay support group Out Spokane to explain his story.

Hawkins said at a news conference Saturday afternoon at the LGBT center in North Spokane that he was attacked as he left Dempsey's Brass Rail around one a.m. because he touched a man's car. Hawkins explains he put his hand on the hood of the car, thinking that the driver was unaware he was there and was in danger of being struck by the vehicle.

Hawkins says this was a hate crime because the man who beat him up was yelling gay slurs.

?There were words that were very derogatory and aimed at hurting me personally,? Hawkins said. ?It's the 21st century and that kind of thing shouldn't happen, we're all people, treat everybody the way you want to be treated.?

Hawkins said he couldn't remember much of the fight or what his attacker looked like.

During the press conference, Hawkins expressed his disappointment that Spokane Police had taken this alleged hate crime so lightly and said he was concerned that the officers didn't seem to care.

"When I said that I wanted to report it as a hate crime, (the officer) shrugged it off and said, you started it," he said.

Spokane Police, however, paint a different picture of what happened Saturday morning. Sergeant Tom Lee, who was not the responding officer but spoke to the officer who was there and read through the report, says there is nothing to indicate Hawkins was beat up because of his sexual orientation.

The officers on scene noted Hawkins banged on the hood of the man's car and didn't simply just touch it. They also noted in the report that there were no witnesses to the crime to corroborate Hawkins' story that the man who beat him up was yelling gay slurs.

Lee says Hawkins was also extremely intoxicated, and wasn't able to give the responding officer his own address or birthday. The sergeant also revealed that the man involved in the fight fled the scene, but later called police to file his own assault report because he felt threatened by Hawkins.

The investigation has been turned over to the major crimes division to make sure officers aren't missing anything. Police say reports of several hate crimes occurring in the past two weeks, have been classified as assaults and not hate crimes.

"At this time, there's no reason to believe they're related at all. I want to assure members of the gay and lesbian community that there's no one out there hunting them down and wanting to harm them," Sgt. Lee said.

Police say the alleged suspect contacted officers after he left the scene claiming he was the victim.

KXLY tried to contact Hawkins about the comments made by Spokane Police Sunday, but our calls were not returned.

KXLY4's Colleen O'Brien and Ian Cull contributed to this story.