UPDATE: Police arrested 19-year-old Christian Washington Tuesday. Police said they are still investigating whether others were involved.
Five lesbians who say they were attacked because of their sexual orientation are angry with the D.C. police officers who responded for releasing the attackers and not taking a report.
Early Saturday morning, the women were walking in the 3100 block of 14th Street NW when two men confronted them. First, the men flirted, but after one of the women rebuffed their advances by saying she was with her girlfriend, the men began hurling obscenities at them, the women said.
It allegedly escalated to a physical confrontation when one of the women was punched in the face. When other women in the group went to her aid, more punches allegedly were thrown by both men.
“A very violent attack, leaving bruises on their faces and black eyes,” said A.J. Singletary, of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence.
A bystander called police, but what happened when officers arrived was not what any of the victims expected. Police released the men.
“The police response kind of brushed off the attack,” Singletary said. “They said the women were hysterical, which is understandable. I mean, if you’re attacked, especially in that violent of a fashion, the expectation is that you’d be very upset about that, so the fact that the police said they were hysterical and even threatened to arrest the women themselves because they were so hysterical is absolutely unacceptable.”
The department’s gay and lesbian liaison took reports later, and Chief Cathy Lanier has spoken to the victims.
“The great response after the fact doesn’t make up for the poor response in the beginning,” Lanier said. “For four or five officers to be aware of a crime and not take police action, that’s a very serious allegation.”
An internal investigation of the officer’s actions is under way, Lanier said, and police have good leads in the alleged hate crime itself.
This incident follows two recent crimes against transgender women – one in which the victim was killed and another in which she was shot at. Police don’t believe the incidents are related.