Two gay teens who said they were attacked at an Atlanta high school over their sexual orientation now face criminal charges as police say the incident was nothing more than a “good old fashioned fight” and not a hate crime.
Atlanta police issued a statement Wednesday providing additional details of what unfolded on Monday afternoon at the New Schools at Carver in southeast Atlanta. Zy'derryo Brown (top photo), 17, told police and WSB that the attack left him and Timothy Jefferson, 16, bruised and bloodied when a “mob” of up to 20 students attacked them and yelled anti-gay slurs.
But Atlanta police said Wednesday that its investigation showed Brown and Jefferson were in a fight with two other unidentified juveniles at the school while nearly 100 other students watched. While anti-gay slurs may have been yelled, targeting the teens over their sexual orientation was not a factor in the fight, according to Elizabeth Espy, the interim public affairs director for Atlanta police.
“It didn't involve a mob of people jumping on these students,” Espy told Project Q Atlanta. “Investigators are saying that it wasn't a mob attack, that it was just these four involved in a good old fashioned fight.”
Espy said investigators didn't say what prompted the fight or how the four students knew one another. But the incident did not meet criteria to be classified as a hate crime, the statement said.
“The subsequent investigation of a fight on the New Schools of Carver campus on April 20, 2015 has revealed that the incident involved four people,” according to the police statement. “These students were involved in a fight with each other with approximately 100 students watching the incident. This altercation will not be classified as a hate crime because it does not meet the requirements of such.”
Brown was charged with disorderly conduct, while Jefferson and two other students face a charge of affray. The four teens were given a citation for the criminal charge and not arrested, Espy said.
“The investigation shows that there was a fight between these four individuals and that it wasn't a targeted attack because of their sexual orientation,” Espy said.
The police account of the incident is a striking contrast to what Brown told police and WSB.
Brown called the attack a “mob beating” and said he was repeatedly struck in the face and upper torso and suffered a bloody mouth, loose teeth and head injuries. Jefferson (second photo) described the incident to the Georgia Voice and said several people pushed him to the ground during the attack (watch below). Jefferson's mother told the media outlet how she fears for her son's safety at the school.
While on the ground, Brown told Atlanta police that someone kicked him in the head and all over his body. Jefferson was cut under his right eye by a screwdriver, kicked in the head and struck in the head with a heavy object, according to an incident report.
“They stomped me in my neck. They stomped me in my chest, in my back and in my head,” Brown told WSB.
Brown told police that as the attack started, one of the assailants ran at him saying, “You a gay ass nigger. ” A witness told Atlanta police that a crowd of onlookers was yelling, “They beating those faggots.”
Brown said Wednesday that he didn't know he faced criminal charges until told by Project Q Atlanta. He again said that he and Jefferson were victims.
“We were attacked. It was more than four people,” Brown said.
Brown added that he spotted his attackers in the school cafeteria on Wednesday, and they tried to attack him again.
Jefferson could not be reached on Wednesday, but a man answering his phone said the teen was not aware he faced charges in the incident.