Teen attacked, police not in position to determine 'hate crime'

Published: Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2012 at 11:00 PM EDT
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Picture of the victim's mouth.
Picture of the victim's mouth.
Picture of the victim's leg.
Picture of the victim's leg.
Picture of the victim's arm.
Picture of the victim's arm.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville teen can barely talk, eat or breathe after an attack near Churchill Downs. Her family believes it was a hate crime. However, Louisville Metro Police Department investigators do not make that determination. It's a distinction handled by the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney's Office.

Fourth Division officers continue to investigate the apparent attack that occurred around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday that sent a 17-year-old girl to the hospital with a broken jaw, bruises and cuts covering her body. "Officers did receive a call of a possible assault. Upon further investigation, we've enhanced it to robbery," Public Information Officer Dwight Mitchell said.

The vicitm's family insists it wasn't a robbery, but an attack on the teen because she is gay. "This was a hate crime. There was hate slurs thrown. It was not a robbery," family friend Brenda Hickerson said. "She is a very proud lesbian girl and they were attacked for that very reason."

Police said two men and a woman approached the teen girl, along with two other boys, sometime during the early morning hours Tuesday. The men proceeded to attack the minors and grabbed a cell phone, according to Mitchell.

Police have not charged anyone with the crime. Mitchell said the details regarding the slurs will be included in charging documents if an individual is arrested.

"We may indicate that in the arrest once we've made the arrest - that any type of comments or slurs that were made could possibly enhance the charge if a court and a judge sees fit for that to happen," Mitchell told WAVE 3.

It's a story WAVE 3 broke Tuesday night. By Wednesday, The Kentucky Equality Federation issued a news release indicating the organization has made contact with the victims' families to "offer mental health services, legal services, or spiritual services after the attack."

In a prepared statement, Kentucky Equality Federation Regional Director Jeff Johnson said, "Obviously the people who did this have no fear of being prosecuted. We urge the Louisville Metro Police Department to throw every resource into finding those responsible, it is impossible to believe no forensic evidence was left at the scene of the crime."

Police have a vague description of the men who attacked the teens. If you or anyone you know has information regarding the incident, you're urged to call the anonymous tip line at 574-LMPD.

Copyright 2012 WAVE News. All rights reserved.