I first broke the story that Damian Furtch had been gay bashed in New York city last weekend. I posted the shocking pictures of his face which went viral on the internet. I admire Damian for coming forward with his story. The video has been released of Damian being attacked and now, the main suspect has been apprehended and in a shocking twist he claims ‘I’m gay too”
Twenty-one-year-old Anthony Bray, a homeless man, gave himself up to police after a witness fingered him. He claims Furtch was being disrespectful towards Bray and his friend instigated the attack. Is this simply a tactic to avoid the compounding charges of a hate crime? And how does Bray, aleging he is gay, change the story, and in particular charging him with a hate crime??
First view the assault video here
According to USlegal.com “A hate crime is usually defined by state law as one that involves threats, harassment, or physical harm and is motivated by prejudice against someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability.”
Laws vary by state and if hate crimes are provided for by statute, the definitions of hate crimes and penalties imposed vary. States, Like NY, that have hate crime statutes provide harsher penalties for such offenses.
Orlando criminal defense Attorney Brad Conway, who has worked on the Casey Anthony and Tiger Wood’s case weighs in; “The basis for criminally charging a hate crime lies in the defendants motivation for committing the violent act. The defendants assertions that he himself is gay does not protect him from prosecution under New York’s hate crime statute. Where the evidence shows that the defendants sole motivation for beating Mr Furtch is based on the victims sexuality, it makes no difference that the defendant claims he himself is gay.”
This takes the burden off prosecutors having to put the defendants sexuality on the stand – having to prove that he is gay. It becomes irrelevant at trial and may not even be admissible in front of a jury.
So, for discussion sakes what if they both were black? If a black man beats another black man and uses racial slurs can he be charged with a hate crime??
Midwin Charles, a criminal defense attorney of her own law firm charleslawfirm.com and a legal commentator based in NY City says: “If a victim is targeted because of their race, gender, national origin or religion, they will be charged with a hate crime”
But to me, the issue becomes complicated because in black culture its socially acceptable to call each other the “n” word, and that would make the argument as to wether it was a hate crime or not more difficult in court. What could be argued in Furtch’s case is that the motivating factor in the attack wasn’t because he was gay, it was because the attacker was upset with comments Furtch allegedly made to him inside the Mcdonalds.
The details of what happened to Damien Furtch that night are still being pieced together as part of an ongoing investigation – so we don’t have all the facts. But the video very clearly shows Bray senselessly attacking Damian Furtch. My experiences covering crime has shown me that violent people are repeat offenders. Rarely is this type of violence an isolated incident. It’s probably not Bray’s “first time at the rodeo of violence” so to speak. just look at his criminal record which includes busts for marijuana, graffiti and robbery . Usually the violence escalates with each new attack so I say keep bray off the streets now. The next person who rubs him the wrong way late one night – gay or otherwise – may not be as ‘lucky’ as Damien Furtch – if you call 2 black eyes and a broken nose lucky.