A Kaufman County lesbian couple is concerned about their safety after a neighbor assaulted one of the women in a possible anti-gay hate crime during an argument over fireworks on the Fourth of July.
The couple also said they are outraged that police issued one of them a trespassing warning and listed the neighbor who committed the assault as a victim in the report, even though he had no injuries. The woman who was assaulted suffered a sprained wrist.
The couple, who asked that their names be withheld for safety reasons, said they were sitting on the patio in front of their home in Terrell on July 4 when fireworks being set off at the neighbor’s house across the street began landing in their yard.
One of the women went to the neighbor’s home around 9 p.m. to inform him that the fireworks were landing in their yard and asked him to be more careful. She said he became upset and yelled at her to leave his property.
After another firework landed in the couple’s yard a short time later, the woman took it to the neighbor’s house and showed it to him.
That’s when he yelled at her to leave his property and said she could not prove it was one of his fireworks. The woman told Instant Tea she “pushed the firework toward his stomach and threw it on the ground.”
The neighbor then yelled at her, “We don’t want your kind here” and “You’re not wanted here” and told her they should move to where their “kind” was welcome. After she started backing up, the man “charged her” and pushed her backward, knocking her to the ground, she said.
She went back home and her partner called the police. She went to the doctor the next morning and learned she had a sprained wrist and would have to have it bandaged for several days before returning to the doctor.
The woman’s partner said everyone in the neighborhood knows they are a couple. They have been partners for 24 years and have lived in their neighborhood for six years with only a few incidents and comments made about their sexual orientation.
The couple used to be on good terms with the neighbor and his family, the women said. However, after a homeowner’s association meeting at their home to discuss and implement restrictions on all-terrain vehicles that often sped through the area, the neighbor, who has ATVs, became cold toward them. But they still hadn’t had any major incidents or arguments with him.
“We don’t party. We’re very solitary,” her partner said. “We mind our own business.”
While the incident upset them, they said they were shocked by the response of the Kaufman County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the 911 call. When the deputies arrived, they told the couple that it was legal for the neighbor to shoot fireworks.
The couple said they merely wanted the neighbor to prevent the fireworks from landing in their yard, not to stop setting them off. After interviewing the couple and four of the roughly 20 family and friends at the neighbor’s home, the deputies issued the woman a warning for criminal trespassing because the neighbor told her to leave his property.
She said she was attempting to handle the matter politely instead of calling police when she went to the neighbor’s house. She wanted to press charges for him pushing her down and assaulting her, but deputies told her she could not press charges because she assaulted the neighbor first by poking him with a firework, which is listed in the incident report as her poking him with “something.”
The report lists the neighbor as the victim even though the woman is the complainant who called police. In reference to the comments, the report states that “she was then told to go where her ‘kind’ is liked, which she believed was in reference to the fact she was a homosexual.”
The report also states that she replied “I guess” when asked whether she needed medical treatment from EMS. She said she requested for EMS to be called but wanted to go to her own doctor the next day after they looked at it on scene.
The couple is upset not only because the witnesses corroborate the neighbor’s incomplete story of her not leaving the neighbor’s property, but also because deputies refused to take her seriously. She said she still wants to press charges.
Assistant Chief Rodney Evans with the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office said the deputies on scene made the call about who was the victim, even though the report indicates that the couple’s neighbor had no injuries.
He said comments about their sexuality are not listed in the witness statements of the man’s friends. Charges can still be filed by the woman, he said, but she will have to make another report. She can also file a complaint for how deputies treated her and her partner on scene, Evans said.
The neighbor couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.