A 20-year-old D.C. man accused of assaulting and robbing another man before pushing him onto the tracks at the Navy Yard Metro station in March because he believed the victim was gay was sentenced on July 15 to one year in jail by a D.C. Superior Court judge.
Judge Yvonne Williams handed down the sentence for Raheem S. Sills two months after Sills pled guilty on May 11 to a charge of attempted assault with a dangerous weapon as part of a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At the time of his arrest in April Metro Police charged Sills with assault with a dangerous weapon and robbery.
“We did consider a hate crime enhancement and intended to pursue it until the defendant quickly took responsibility for his actions and pled guilty,” William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the Washington Blade.
“We brought the defendant’s motivation to the judge’s attention during the allocution at sentencing,” Miller said.
A police arrest affidavit says Sills, co-defendant Isiah Bogan, 20, and other unidentified males with them approached the victim on the platform of the Navy Yard Metro station about 10:50 p.m. on March 10. The affidavit says Sills allegedly slapped the victim on the back of the head as the victim tried to walk away from Sills and the others accompanying Sills.
According to the affidavit, Sills’ initial assault triggered an altercation between the victim, Sills and the others. During the altercation a suspect later identified as Sills allegedly took the victim’s cell phone and about $80 in cash before shoving the victim onto the tracks “at a time when trains were still operational,” the affidavit says.
During the July 15 sentencing hearing Assistant U.S. Attorney Dineen Baker, the prosecutor in the case, played a video obtained from Metro security cameras that showed the victim being pushed onto the tracks and immediately climbing back onto the platform.
The arrest affidavit says the attack continued as the victim fled to the upper level of the station. The Metro security video played in court at the sentencing shows Sills picking up a cone-shaped, four-foot-tall plastic “wet floor” sign and using it like a baseball bat to strike the victim repeatedly in the upper body.
During the sentencing hearing Baker pointed out that Sills told police at the time of his arrest that he targeted the victim because he “looked gay” and that he doesn’t like gay people or men who “act like women.”
Baker said the victim was a waiter, and at the time of the incident had just gotten off work at one of the restaurants located near the Metro station and the nearby Washington Nationals baseball stadium.
She asked the judge for a suggested sentence of 14 months in jail, saying Sills has shown remorse and has owned up to what he did by agreeing to plead guilty.
David Richter, Sills’ attorney, told Williams his client was grappling with mental health issues.
“It was a bunch of dumb young kids doing this,” Richter said. “He has taken responsibility for it.”
Before handing down her sentence, Williams asked Sills, “Did you tell police you don’t like gay people?”
Sills nodded his head and said something in a soft voice that couldn’t be heard by courtroom observers.
“This boils down to, you can’t control your behavior, your anger,” Williams told him. “You sucker punched him in the back of his head when he was walking away. This is all for nothing, you hit him for nothing. Is all that worth it?”
In addition to sentencing him to one year in jail Williams ordered that Sills be placed on supervised probation for two years upon his release from jail.
Co-defendant Bogan, who also pled guilty to a charge of attempted assault with a dangerous weapon, was expected to be sentenced later this year.
Sills’ sentencing on July 15 was the third sentencing so far this year in Superior Court of defendants charged in unrelated anti-gay assaults. It was the second known anti-gay case this year to have taken place in a Metro station.
In an April 11 incident, a 23-year-old gay man suffered a concussion, broken jaw, and loosened teeth at the hands of four male suspects who attacked and beat him inside the Congress Heights Metro station. One of the attackers called him an anti-gay name, according to a report by Metro Transit Police.
Metro has released photos of three suspects obtained from images from its security cameras, and a Metro spokesperson said two of the suspects have been identified but no arrests have been made in the case.
On July 8, a Superior Court judge sentenced D.C. resident David Morris, 33, to eight years in prison for attacking and severely beating a male co-worker who he believed was making a “sexual overture toward him,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case as a hate crime. The sentencing came after Morris pled guilty to assault with intent to kill with a hate crime designation.
On June 29, Judge Williams, the same judge who sentenced Raheem Sills in the most recent Metro assault case, sentenced twins Christina and Christopher Lucas, 22, to jail terms of six months and one year respectively for the attack and beating of a 29-year-old gay man in October 2013.
Williams initially sentenced Christina Lucas to one year but, in a controversial move, said she changed her mind and lowered the sentence to six months 20 minutes later after prosecutors believe the official sentencing hearing ended.
A Superior Court jury convicted the two in May of aggravated assault while armed and designated the offense as a hate crime. A police source said police and prosecutors were disappointed in the sentences, saying they were too lenient for the nature of the offense.