Gay Dallas man arrested for robbery says he was fleeing hate crime

Posted on 17 Oct 2012 at 10:01am

Justin York’s arm a few days after the incident at Southwest Auto Tow. He said he suffered a concussion and a dislocated jaw.

A Dallas gay man claims he was the victim of a hate crime while trying to retrieve his items from a towing company on Oct. 6.

Justin York said he was moving into an apartment when his car and his friend’s car were towed in the early hours of Saturday, Oct. 6. He said his landlord hadn’t processed their vehicle information yet, so the towing was a misunderstanding.

York and his friend went to Southwest Auto Tow, at 11211 Goodnight Lane, to get items out of their cars around 5 a.m. He said he didn’t want to pay $200 to get his car back since it was towed because of a mistake by his landlord.

York said he turned on his car for heat because of the chilly weather that weekend. A few minutes later, he said he saw two men at the company pick up his friend’s car with a wrecker while the friend was still inside and begin to swing the car from side to side. York said he left his car running and ran toward the men to stop them.

He said they then punched him in the head and his friend ran off. He said one of the men sat on him while the other kicked him repeatedly and yelled anti-gay slurs and comments about gay sex. He fought back to protect himself.

“I may be gay, but I’m still a man no matter how feminine I am, so I fought back,” he said. “I literally started whooping his ass with my purse.”

He broke free and ran to his car, locked himself inside and called 911. He said he saw the men call police before heading toward his car with a crowbar.

Scared what they may do next, he said he drove his car through the metal gate before police arrived. He said he exited his car, held his hands up and told police the men were trying to kill him.

Two Dallas police officers arrested him because he had a warrant for a traffic ticket out of McKinney. York said he asked to be taken to a hospital, but the officers refused medical treatment on his behalf. He said he later went to the hospital after being released from jail Monday and had a concussion and a dislocated jaw.

York said he was charged with robbery for allegedly trying to remove his vehicle from the lot without paying, but he said police refused to take a statement from him about the assault, which he said was a hate crime because the men perceived him as gay.

Detective Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT liaison officer, said officers determine upon arrival who is the aggressor in the situation and make an arrest. She said the report is still under review, so she could not comment about the details of what happened. She said everyone is treated by a nurse when they are taken to jail, so York did received some medical attention.

Martin said York’s charge was reduced to criminal mischief this Tuesday because the towing company dropped the assault charge. Without an assault element, a robbery charge isn’t valid.

Martin said York can file an assault charge with the district attorney’s office, but in Texas people have the right to prevent someone from stealing property in their possession.

“If someone is being robbed, they can take steps to prevent being robbed,” she said. “It’s not an assault if someone hits the person trying to rob them.”

The cost of damage to the towing company’s metal gate hasn’t been determined so it is unclear if York’s charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Court records show that York has had various misdemeanor charges dating back several years. The charges include drug possession, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

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