Police offer reward in stalled hate crime case

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Atlanta police are now offering a $2,000 reward for tips in an anti-gay hate crime that's stumped them for 10 months and just days ago was classified as an “inactive” investigation.

Working with Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta, police on Monday announced a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the man who attacked a gay couple last March as they waited to cross the street near Joe's on Juniper.

The reward and renewed interest from Atlanta police came after the GA Voice published the surveillance video of the attack, additional media coverage, and criticism from the victim's boyfriend about the pace of the investigation. A police spokesperson declined to discuss the agency's handling of the assault investigation with the GA Voice on Dec. 30. Three days later, Officer Eric King, one of the department's two LGBT liaisons, told WABE that the investigation was “inactive.”

On March 7, the 33-year-old man and his boyfriend, Bryan Long – executive director of the progressive advocacy group Better Georgia – were holding hands as they walked from a restaurant. A BMW followed the men as they reached the corner of Juniper and 11th streets, honking at them. Then, according to an incident report, a passenger jumped out, called the man “faggot” and repeatedly hit him in the back of the head. The impact sent the victim into oncoming traffic on Juniper.

The attack was captured on video surveillance cameras and Long was able to record video of the apparent attacker and the car's license plate. Police interviewed the driver, who wouldn't identify the passenger, and police did not subpoena the driver's cell phone records during its investigation, according to the GA Voice.

Legal analyst Page Pate told WABE that police misstep isn't difficult to fix.

APD says the driver won’t talk, and that it can’t subpoena the driver’s cell phone records.

“When they say they can’t, what I think they mean to say is they didn’t get approval for it,” counters WABE legal analyst Page Pate. “An investigator didn’t sign off on it. It’s not at all hard to get a subpoena for phone records. You don’t even have to go to a judge.”

Information about the case can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers online or through its tip line. Atlanta police described the suspect as a “light skin male wearing a red shirt and an Atlanta Braves ball cap.”

UPDATE | The name of the victim was removed from an earlier version of this story at the request of Long.

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