The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia on March 31 released a two-page fact sheet showing that in the year 2020 its office had prosecuted just seven out of 42 bias-related arrests made by D.C. police as a hate crime.
The 2020 Bias-Related Crimes Fact Sheet shows that three of the seven cases it prosecuted as bias related were for anti-LGBTQ hate crimes based on the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the fact sheet, out of the 42 bias designated arrests that D.C. police made in 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted 30 of them, but only five of them were prosecuted with a hate crime designation. In the remaining 25 cases, the hate crime designation made by D.C. police was dropped and the case was prosecuted for the underlying offense such as assault, threats of violence, vandalism, or another criminal offense.
The U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuted another two cases as bias related that D.C. police did not designate as bias related, bringing the total number of hate crime prosecutions in D.C. to seven for 2020, the fact sheet says.
The fact sheet also points out that D.C. police in 2020 identified a total of 132 incidents that officers designated as potential hate crimes but ultimately decided to make an arrest in only 42 of the incidents.
The 132 figure represents a decline from 203 potential hate crime incidents reported by D.C. for 2019, 205 such incidents for 2018, and 177 for 2017.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request by the Washington Blade for the number of hate crime prosecutions the office carried out in the past several years prior to 2020.
Out of the seven cases prosecuted in 2020, the U.S. Attorney fact sheet says three of the victims were allegedly targeted because of their actual or perceived “race or color,” one was targeted because of the victim’s actual or perceived “race,” two were targeted because of their actual or perceived “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression;” and one was targeted because of his actual or perceived “sexual orientation.”
In the recent past, spokespersons for the U.S. Attorney’s office have said that while police make decisions for bias-related arrests based on the legal concept of “probable cause,” prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office must adhere to a stricter standard of being able to convince a jury at trial that a defendant committed a hate crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” For that reason, prosecutors with the office, including former D.C. U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, have said the number of prosecutions of hate crime have always been significantly fewer than the number of hate crime arrests made by police.
The fact sheet released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office also discloses the name of the suspects arrested in each of the seven cases that it prosecuted along with the Superior Court case number, which enabled the Blade to obtain the court records for each of the three LGBTQ related cases.
One of the three cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office involves an incident that took place in the D.C. gay bar Trade.
Court records show that D.C. police arrested a suspect identified as 34-year-old D.C. resident Faisal M. Manan on a charge of committing a bias-related assault on Jan. 12, 2020 inside Trade against two of the bar’s employees and against then-D.C. gay Police Lt. Brett Parson, who was off duty, dressed in civilian clothes, and visiting the bar as a patron.
“Interviews of victims and witnesses revealed that Defendant 1 was a patron inside the establishment,” an arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court says. “Victim 1 and Victim 2 are both employed by the establishment and asked Defendant 1 to leave because he was disorderly and harassing customers, calling patrons ‘gay bitches’ and ‘faggots,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit and a separate charging document state that Defendant 1, who is identified in court documents as Faisal Manan, hit one of the employees by shoving him in the chest as the two employees escorted Manan out of the bar. Manan shoved the other employee immediately after he was escorted outside the bar, the charging documents say.
According to the affidavit, Parson intervened to assist a D.C. police officer who arrived at the bar after the bar called police for assistance in dealing with a “disorder patron.” A charging document says Manan was charged with making threats to do bodily harm against Parson. Manan also allegedly shoved Parson while calling him anti-gay names.
“During the assaults, Defendant 1 continued to espouse anti-gay epithets at Victim 1 and Victim 2, which were witnessed by responding officers after arriving on scene,” the affidavit says. “Specifically, Defendant 1 said, ‘I can’t believe I’m being taken out by the niggers and fags,’ and also called Victim 1 and Victim 2 ‘gay,’ ‘queen,’ ‘fag,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘bitch-ass faggot,’ says the affidavit.
It says that during this time, Manan “repeatedly emphasized that he was straight and that he likes ‘juicy pussy.’”
Court records show that Manan was held until the following day when he appeared in court on Jan. 13, 2020 for an arraignment. The records show he was released on personal recognizance with a requirement that he report regularly to the court’s Pre-Trial Services Agency, and a stay-away order was issued by the judge.
The online court docket doesn’t give further details of the stay-away order, but in most cases such orders prohibit a defendant from going to a location where an alleged crime was committed or going near the individual or individuals the defendant is accused of harming.
The records show that at a Feb. 20, 2020 status hearing Judge Jonathan Pittman indicated that prosecutors were considering extending a plea bargain offer to Manan at a future hearing. But the most recent entry into the court docket on Jan. 17, 2021 shows that no further court action would take place until Sept. 14, 2021, when a status hearing is scheduled.
Court observers have said long delays in court hearings and trials, which began last March due to COVID-related restrictions, were continuing this year.
The second of the two hate crime cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office involves an Aug. 18, 2020 incident in which defendant Jalal Malki, 37, a D.C. resident, was charged with making bias-related threats to do bodily harm against a male victim inside the apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W.
An arrest affidavit says Malki, who lived in a nearby apartment building and sometimes visited the victim’s building, repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot” and threatened to “fucking kill him” if he caught the victim outside the building. Court records show Malki was released on personal recognizance during an Aug. 19 court arraignment with a stay-away order prohibiting him from approaching the victim.
Court records show that over the next several months Malki was cited at least two times for noncompliance with his release conditions while awaiting trial and failed to show up for a court status hearing. But the records show a judge agreed to requests by Malki’s court appointed attorney that Malki’s release status continue and that he would comply with all release requirements going forward. The next status hearing for the case is scheduled for June 4, 2021.
The third of the three hate crime cases involves the Sept. 10, 2020 arrest of District resident Oliver Hairston, 52, on charges of biased-related assault and possession of a prohibited weapon, a knife. An arrest affidavit says Harston allegedly approached a female victim in front of the 7-Eleven store at 1115 U St., N.W. and “began yelling, ‘faggity mother fucker,’ produced a knife from his pocket, and began to swing the knife in her direction.”
It says the victim attempted to walk away from Hairston, but Hairston followed her and picked up a hard object believed to be a brick and stated repeatedly, “Say one more thing and I’m gonna hit you with this brick.” At that time, the affidavit says, the victim saw a D.C. police cruiser driving along U Street and started yelling for help. It says officers immediately stopped and came to the victim’s assistance. The officers stopped Harston as he attempted to walk away from the scene, saw him drop the “hard object” as he attempted the leave the area and confiscated a knife Harston had in his pocket, the affidavit says.
“While defendant Hairston was stopped by officers, defendant Hairston stated, ‘I’ll hit him because he’s a faggot. I don’t like that gay shit,’” the affidavit says.
Court records show that Hairston, too, was released on personal recognizance at a Sept. 11, 2020 arraignment in D.C. Superior Court. A stay-away order was issued prohibiting him from approaching the victim. His next court appearance, a “Misdemeanor Initial Status Hearing,” is scheduled for Aug. 8, 2021, according to the online court docket.
The U.S. Attorney’s fact sheet says Hairston allegedly targeted the victim because of her “gender identity and/or sexual orientation.”
Parson, who retired from the police force less than a month after the incident at Trade bar took place, said he could not comment on the specific actions that took place because the case is still pending. But he said he could express his personal feelings about what happened to him.
“As a police officer, it showed me that all of us are vulnerable, that it doesn’t matter whether you are a police officer or a bartender or a community member walking down the street,” he said. “When people are motivated by hate, they do hateful things. And being a victim, myself, reminded me of that.”
Parson said that while he and his former police colleagues would like to see more hate crimes cases prosecuted, he recognizes that the U.S. Attorney’s Office cannot prosecute all of the hate crime arrests brought to them by police.
“The standard that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has to use is very different than ours at the level of arrest,” Parson said. “We use probable cause for arrest. But they have to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “And that’s a very big difference. And so, you’re always going to see that disparity between the number of cases we present to them and the number of cases they actually prosecute.”
Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou