Police probe into Atlantic Station gay bash stalls

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The investigation into a gay bashing at Atlantic Station is stalling as the gay man who was punched won’t talk to police investigators and the Midtown retail center won’t say why it hasn’t released any footage of the incident captured by its video cameras to police.

John Mark Parker says he was punched in the face so hard that it knocked him down and required five stitches in the hospital. The attack came Saturday evening as he walked from the parking deck to the Fenuxe Fire Party at the former Fox Sports Grill. When he asked a man and woman for directions, the man asked if he was gay. When Parker said yes, the assailant punched him in the head.

But Parker hasn’t yet talked with Atlanta police investigators who are attempting to piece together what happened.

“We continue to reach out to the victim, but have not yet been successful in reaching him in order to complete an interview for investigative follow-up,” Atlanta police spokesperson Carlos Campos said Thursday.

“Zone 5 investigators need to conduct that interview so we can get specific details on the incident. Those details will help us determine if this crime meets the criteria to bring in our Homeland Security Unit, which investigates bias crimes,” he added.

But the investigation has also stalled while Atlanta police wait on Atlantic Station to provide any video surveillance that captured the incident. Campos said the agency has not received the footage, despite an Atlantic Station spokesperson saying Sunday that they are cooperating with the investigation.

On Thursday, Atlantic Station spokesperson Elizabeth Hagin from Wilbert News Strategies declined to address questions about any video surveillance and why it hasn’t been turned over to police. She also did not address questions about whether security guards for the retail center file incident reports when they respond to possible criminal activity.

“We have no new updates,” Hagin said.

But on Sunday, Hagin said Atlantic Station is “currently cooperating in the investigation.”

A friend of Parker, Paul Swicord, was on hand when the victim entered the Fire Party after the assault. He alleged in a detailed account of the incident that an Atlantic Station security guard at first tried to eject the men from the event and then was reluctant to take action. It took the intervention of Swicord and others at the event, along with a call from an Atlanta police LGBT liaison officer, for a formal police report to be filed.

“There was no compassion in this security officer for the victim. He was reluctant to take a report and document the incident,” Swicord said.

Atlantic Station said witnesses were providing “conflicting information regarding this incident.”

On Monday, Hagin followed with a second statement that said, despite the continuing investigation, “our own public safety officers handled the incident according to protocol and were respectful to all parties involved.”

On Tuesday, Atlanta police released its incident report about the assault. It shows that Parker initially said the attack “was not a big deal” and that he refused medical treatment before eventually being transported by ambulance to Emory University Hospital Midtown.


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