D.C. police announced Tuesday night that they have arrested one of two female suspects wanted for the June 23 assault against a gay male drag performer inside a pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W. that was captured on video and created an uproar in the LGBT community.
In a statement released shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, police said 28-year-old Raymone Harding of Gaithersburg, Md., was arrested earlier that day and charged with simple assault in connection with the attack against Miles Denaro, 24.
Denaro told police and the Blade that the two women dragged him by his hair across the floor at Manny & Olga’s pizza carry out restaurant at 1841 14th St., N.W., while they punched and kicked him in the face and body. He said the assault began after the women made fun of his makeup and one of them touched his face and the other slapped him.
He said he was dressed as a woman when he entered the restaurant shortly after finishing a drag performance at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.
A video taken of the incident, which was posted on at least three websites, including briefly on YouTube, shows bystanders laughing and cheering while employees of the restaurant look on without trying to stop the altercation.
Denaro said the women called him a “tranny” and “faggot.”
The second of the two women implicated in the assault filed a police report on the night of the incident accusing Denaro of assaulting her by biting her on her thigh. Denaro said he bit the woman in self-defense as she was pulling out his hair and the other woman held him down on the floor.
“At that time, with my face on the ground in her legs, the only thing to help get out of it was to bite her,” Denaro told the Blade.
The police report filed by the second woman identifies her as Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, also of Gaithersburg.
The police statement announcing the arrest says the case remains under investigation.
LGBT activists noted that the assault against Denaro was one of six incidents over an eight-day period beginning June 21 in which two transgender women were shot and wounded, a lesbian was shot to death, two other trans women were stabbed and another was sexually assaulted. Police said the sexual assault took place after the woman got into the suspect’s car at the time she met him on the street in the 300 block of 61st Street, N.E. about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29.
Police have said only one of the six incidents were being investigated as a possible hate crime. The other cases appear to be linked to robbery attempts or personal disputes, police said.
Some LGBT activists dispute that assessment, saying they believe several of the victims were targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.