Don’t expect quick arrests in Midtown attack

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imageBlogger Matt Hennie is the founder and managing editor of Project Q Atlanta. He’s a longtime Atlanta resident who’s worked in journalism since his days as a Purple Paladin at Furman University in the early ‘90s.

Read between the lines in the latest report on the March 8 attack on a gay man in Midtown and you’ll find this: Don’t expect this crime to be solved anytime soon.

Atlanta police said Monday that surveillance video in the area where John Evans was attacked shows only him and no suspects. The officer, in an interview with Southern Voice, also laments that alcohol is playing a role in slowing — if not downright stalling — the investigation.

No other people are seen, making the tape essentially useless in the investigation, according to Officer Dani Lee Harris, the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT liaison.

“There is a surveillance camera showing [John Evans] going to the parking lot behind Blake’s about 10 p.m. but nothing else,” Harris said.

imageThe police still aren’t clear on whether the attack was a hate crime, one of several facts facing inconsistencies in what Evans reported to an off-duty police officer at Blake’s on the Park, where Evans was spending time with friends before the attack, and later interviews with Harris and media outlets.

Evans was also unable to give a description of his attackers, according to the police report. Scott Horton, a friend of Evans who first spoke to the media about the case, initially said Evans reported he was attacked by two white men. Evans then told Harris he was attacked by a light-skinned black man and by another man who he could not identify by ethnicity or race.

“There are so many discrepancies between what [Evans] said and what the report states. I’m not sure what role alcohol played,” Harris said Monday. “The biggest difference is the time.”

Harris also said Det. Layton asked Evans specific questions immediately after the incident to determine if the attack was a hate crime. When Evans did not state he was called any anti-gay slurs or that he was attacked because he was gay, Layton wrote in his report, “At the time of this report there is no evidence that this was a bias crime.”

Evans told media outlets that his attackers asked if he was leaving Blake’s and if he’s gay before beating him and calling him “faggot.”

Unfortunately, Evans — who suffered broken teeth and other facial injuries in the attack — is becoming a victim a second time because he had a fun evening drinking with friends only to be preyed on by thugs looking for an easy score. Now, critical details remain sketchy and police don’t have solid descriptions to help their investigation.

Meanwhile, the attackers can join the “Midtown Mugger” in continuing to target people walking the streets of Midtown.

Photo: Evans photo by Laura Douglas-Brown, Southern Voice

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