FW assault now classified as hate crime

AFTERMATH | Jason Sanches, who suffered facial injuries in a May 24 attack, says the Fort Worth officer who initially responded to the attack did not treat the incident seriously.

Fairness Fort Worth criticizes FWPD’s initial handling of attack; asks for FBI to investigate as well. FWPD denies charges of delay in reclassifying attack

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth police officials this week confirmed that a May 24 attack on two gay men is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but denied charges that classification of the attack as a hate crime was improperly delayed.

The LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth this week released a statement on Wednesday, June 7, saying that the attack should have been classified as a hate crime in the initial report by responding officers and calling for “additional training of officers about hate crimes.”

In addition, Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable said that on Monday, June 6, he contacted the local office of the FBI to request an investigation of the incident under the federal hate crimes law. Anable said that within hours, the agency had assigned an agent who had contacted him and the Fort Worth PD.

“The FBI will conduct a separate investigation of the incident and is willing to assist the Fort Worth Police Department in its investigation,” according to the Fairness Fort Worth statement.

FBI Special Agent Mark White, media spokesman for the agency’s Dallas office, said Thursday, June 9, he could neither confirm nor deny that the FBI is conducting an investigation, as per office policy.

According to police reports, Jason Sanches, his partner Ray Easley and his sister Joni Mariscal were attacked by a group of six men and one woman outside a convenience store on South Hulen, just south of I-20, in the early morning hours of May 24. The trio had walked over from their nearby apartment, and left the store after buying a pack of gum.

Sanches said that the suspects accused them of “talking shit to my girl” inside the store, and attacked him with a stun gun before shoving and punching him until he fell to the ground.

Easley was also attacked with the stun gun three or four times.

Sanches, who refused ambulance service and later drove himself to the hospital, was hit in the face and had several teeth knocked out. He said Thursday that he is recovering, but still has pain around his eye socket, which was fractured in the attack.

Sanches said he believes that the “girl” to whom the attackers referred was a young Asian woman who is a member of the family that owns the store. He said he did not see the woman in the store before the attack, but that when Easley drove back to the store later to look for the suspects, the woman pulled a gun on him and told him to leave.

Sanches also told Dallas Voice shortly after the attack that he was upset at the way officers and paramedics with MedStar ambulance company that responded to the initial call treated him and his partner and sister. He said the officers and the paramedics did not seem to take the attack seriously and that the officers ignored his statements that the attack was a hate crime.

Sanches said he did tell responding officers that the attackers used anti-gay language, but the initial report, supplied by Fort Worth PD,
includes no mention of the slurs being used.

Sanches said Thursday he has not filed a complaint against the officers, but is considering doing so. He also said he has spoken with a detective to whom the case was assigned, but had not heard anything from officials “since last Wednesday.”

When Sanches first contacted Dallas Voice, Voice staffers suggested he contact Fort Worth police’s LGBT Liaison Officer Sara Straten. According to a spokesman in the department’s media relations office, Straten then filed a supplemental report that included information on the anti-gay language used by the suspects and indicating the attack could be a hate crime.

According to the Fairness Fort Worth statement, Police Chief Jeff Halstead contacted a FFW representative on Monday to notify them the case had been assigned to the major case unit and would be investigated as a hate crime. The statement also said Halstead had “expressed disappointment in the department’s initial steps which failed to properly investigate the incidence as a hate crime.”

But in a statement released late Wednesday, Lt. Paul Henderson, Halstead’s chief of staff, defended the way the department had handled the case.

Henderson’s statement noted that initial reports did not include reference to the anti-gay language suspects used in the attack. But, he added, patrol officers are trained to respond to emergency situations and calls for service, and their “primary mission is to respond and conduct a basic investigation” and file an initial report.

While some patrol officers do conduct “in-depth investigations,” Henderson said, most are “not necessarily trained investigators” and they are not trained to investigate hate crimes.

Henderson said those initial reports are then funneled to detectives in the proper divisions who conduct thorough investigations. Evidence from those investigations is then used to “make determinations if a crime actually occurred, what charge would be filed and whether there are any special circumstances that need to be considered for the district attorney’s office,” he said.

In terms of the Sanches case, Henderson said, “we respectfully disagree that there was a delay in making a determination that this was a potential hate crime. Those types of determinations are made by assigned detectives who are trained investigators.”

Henderson said that based on the initial report by the responding officer, the attack was not considered a potential hate crime and was assigned to a detective in the division where the attack occurred.

However, after Sanches provided a written statement, on May 28, regarding the anti-gay slurs used during the assault, the case was sent to the Major Case Section for further review, and then assigned to a Major Case detective for investigation as a possible hate crime.

“It is important to note that had the responding officer listed the specific details in the original summary narrative regarding anti-gay slurs, the same process of investigation would have taken place, leading us to the same conclusion that this is a potentially hate-motivated crime,” Henderson said.

He also pointed out that “hate crimes are presented as such during the trial for the underlying offense, in this case, aggravated assault. Once a crime is determined to be potentially motivated by hate, it is the responsibility of the prosecuting attorney to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected the victim or victims based on bias or prejudice.”

LGBT advocates have often criticized the way Texas’ hate crimes law is implemented by prosecutors.

The law allows for enhanced penalties in convictions where crimes were motivated by bias, but prosecutors often choose not to ask for a hate crime conviction and penalty enhancement because of the increased burden of proving such bias existed.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Fairness Fort Worth criticizes police handling of apparent anti-gay hate crime

Tom Anable

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. LGBT advocates in Fort Worth say they’re troubled by the Police Department’s handling of an apparent anti-gay hate crime on May 23 in south Fort Worth, which we first told you about last Friday. As we reported this Monday, Fort Worth police are now investigating the attack as a hate crime, but advocates say authorities initially tried to downplay the incident, leaving anti-gay slurs out of their report and failing to classify the incident as a an aggravated assault. From today’s Star-Telegram: Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said Tuesday that he is troubled by the department’s handling of the case and has requested an investigation into the assault by the FBI. Among Anable’s concerns is that officers did not include the derogatory terms in their initial report and that the case was not assigned earlier for investigation as a potential hate crime. “It’s clear to me, based on what I know, the officers on the scene downplayed the report,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that after all the progress we’ve made, an incident like this has to come back to Fairness Fort Worth and we have to call the FBI,” said Anable, referring to the changes that have been made since a controversial inspection of the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar, two years ago.

2. Gay California corrections officer Andrew Johnson will be allowed to march in uniform in Sunday’s West Hollywood Pride parade, after the state corrections department reversed its initial decision denying his request. The department’s decision to allow Johnson to march in uniform comes after he filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint through his attorney, Gloria Allred.

3. CNN’s AC360 on Tuesday night aired part one of “The Sissy Boy Experiment,” a three-part series examining the consequences of an experimental “ex-gay” therapy program led by discredited psychologist George “Rent Boy” Rekers. Kirk Murphy, who was enrolled in the program at the age of 5, later took his own life at 38. Part two of the series airs tonight. Watch part one below.

—  John Wright

Gay couple attacked in south FW

Hate crimes unit declines to investigate, but FWPD is requesting video that may identify attackers

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Jason Sanches was walking with his partner and sister from his apartment off South Hulen Street in Fort Worth to a convenience store across the street at about 2 a.m. on Monday, May 23, when he heard someone call out “mother-fucking faggot” before they entered the store.

When they left the store, Sanches said, “Six people came running after us and shouted ‘fucking queer.’”

The three reached the front of their apartment complex on South Hulen Street before their pursuers caught up with them.

“I was tazed, hit in the face and had teeth knocked out,” Sanches said.

He said his partner was hit with the tazer three times but wasn’t punched.

Before Sanches’ sister was attacked, a security guard from their complex heard the noise and flashed a light in their direction, causing the six attackers to flee.

Sanches thinks that one of the attackers is related to the owner of the Shell convenience store across from his apartment.

They called 911 who dispatched police. Emergency Medical Services responded as well.

Sanches said in addition to losing teeth, he sustained a fracture near his eye.

He said his treatment by the police and EMS was not what he would have expected.

“The police didn’t care what I was talking about,” he said. “They had an ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude.”

But they did take a report, he said.

When emergency medical services arrived, Sanches said the EMS told them they “didn’t have all day.” He said he was disoriented after the attack, and instead of getting into the ambulance, he told the medics he would take himself to the hospital.

Sanches drove himself to the Southwest Fort Worth Baylor hospital, a few blocks from his house, where he was treated for his injuries.

After calling Dallas Voice, Sanches contacted Fort Worth Police’s LGBT liaison Officer Sara Straten because he thought the patrol officers who took the report were ignoring his description of the attack as a hate crime.

The hate crime division has declined to investigate the case but has passed it to a detective in the South Division who spoke to Sanches, his partner and sister on Saturday, May 28.

Sanches said that Det. Ruben Towns told him that he was surprised the hate crimes unit turned the case down but that he was investigating.

Sanches believes that a woman in the group is related to the owner of the convenience store.

Towns is requesting video from the convenience store hoping to make an identification among the group of attackers.

—  John Wright

Missing inaction

FAMILY GATHERING | Jamie Boeglin, seated center in white, loved to be part of family gatherings and was especially adamant about her family celebrating her birthday, says her brother John. The fact that Jamie’s 48th birthday passed last July with no word from her to her family heightens John’s fears that Jamie met with foul play. (Photo courtesy John Boeglin)

Jamie Boeglin lived on the fringes of society, and now that she has been missing for a year, her family fears they have lost her forever

RELATED STORY: Recording the injustice

ANDREA GRIMES | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Jamie Boeglin lived in Fort Worth, but she didn’t really have any kind of permanent home to go missing from.

Sometimes she crashed at her brother’s house on the west side or squatted in an abandoned house. She’d spend a night at a shelter here or there, or just sleep on the street.

Many times, she could have listed her address as a jail cell after she’d been picked up for shoplifting or fighting.

Jamie Boeglin did have one place she could reliably be found — the AIDS Outreach Center where she went to refill her medicine.

There, she’d chat up the case workers and get her upcoming medical and mental health appointments in order. She might miss a few of those — could be jail time, could be she’d landed in the hospital — but she always, always came back to seek help from the folks at the AOC.

Except this month, it’ll have been one year since Jamie Boeglin picked up her medication.

No one — not her family, not her doctors, not her counselors — has seen her since May 18, 2010.

Her brother, John Boeglin, says he knows Jamie could be unreliable. But not this unreliable.

“We’ve not heard anything,” says John Boeglin, who along with his four other siblings in North Texas and New Mexico, has been trying to understand how and why their relentlessly “attention-seeking” Jamie dropped off their radar a year ago.

To the Boeglins, however, Jamie is “Jimmy,” their brother, who was born James Martin but began transitioning toward living as a woman in 2008.

Though most people came to know her as Jamie, John Boeglin finds it hard to call his missing sibling anything but Jimmy.

“He’s just always been our brother,” says Boeglin, and despite the family’s many ups and downs dealing with Jamie Boeglin’s homelessness and addiction problems over the years, they’re desperate to find out whether Jamie has run away or if, as John puts it, she’s “a pile of bones under a bush somewhere.”

Even as John Boeglin distributes flyers to area shelters and cruises in vain down Fort Worth’s blighted Lancaster Avenue, looking for any sign of his missing sibling, he knows in his heart that Jamie isn’t the kind of person who’d intentionally go very long without trying to get someone’s attention.

To make things worse, John fears his sibling may have been a victim of anti-transgender violence.

“What if he’s been hauled off by someone who doesn’t like transvestites or transsexuals or transgenders?” John wonders. But he’s so far been unsuccessful in convincing the Fort Worth Police Department that harm may have come to Jamie.

Because they’ve found no clear evidence of foul play, a representative at FWPD says there’s little they can do when an adult does not want to be found.

“We have no reason to suspect foul play,” Fort Worth’s LGBT Community Liason Officer Sara Straten tells the Dallas Voice. As best they can tell, says Straten, Boeglin left town “of her own volition,” based on their detectives’ investigation.

Because Boeglin is listed as a missing person, if she were to be arrested or stopped by police for anything at all, the Fort Worth Police Department would be notified.

“If she’s out there, we’re going to hear about it,” Straten says.

But that’s precisely one of the reasons John Boeglin believes Jamie’s disappearance isn’t voluntary: His sibling has a real habit of running afoul of the law.

In just the first few months of 2010 alone, Jamie Boeglin was cited by Fort Worth police as the victim in a drunken fight that landed her in the hospital with 19 reconstructive pins in her skull. Then, she was arrested for criminal trespass in May, a little more than a week before she was last seen at the AIDS Outreach Center.

In fact, even when the police weren’t involved, it was always some kind of drama with Jamie, remembers her brother — especially around her birthday and on holidays.

John didn’t hear from Jamie last July, which would have been her 48th birthday, and when it comes to holidays, John says Jamie never misses an opportunity for “raising a big stink” about presents and get-togethers.

“Unless he is amnesiac or dead, then there is really no reason that he would not be trying to contact us on a regular basis,” John insists.

But as annoying and dramatic as he says Jamie could be, the most frustrating part of all for John is knowing that, in fact, there is information out there that could help him find out if Jamie is dead or alive. He just can’t access it.

Because of governmental restrictions, John cannot find out whether Jamie’s Social Security debit card has been used in the past year. To do so would require a court order — something he can’t get as long as the police consider Jamie to be absent of her own volition.

If John just had that debit card information, he says, he’d know if his sibling were alright — angry, perhaps, and estranged, but at least alive and well.

“At least we’d know he’s alive and doesn’t want to be contacted,” says John, who says he wouldn’t even care to know where the card has been used — just that it has been. “That’s probably the most frustrating thing.”

But pain and frustration are recurring characters in Jamie Boeglin’s life story.

While homelessness, substance abuse and other catastrophic life events can happen to anyone, transgender people especially lack the help and resources they need from law enforcement, social services and medical professionals. A survey on discrimination against transgender people (See Sidebar) released earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force details just how maddeningly common Jamie Boeglin’s situation is.

According to the study, “Injustice At Every Turn,” transgender people are nearly twice as likely to be homeless than is estimated for the general U.S. population, which correlates with the fact that they are also very likely to be incarcerated or suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

And when it comes to HIV, says Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE, transgender people have a “hugely disproportional” infection rate — four times the national average — due in large part to economic marginalization.

“[Jamie] has got to feel fairly discarded by society,” says Keisling, whose her research has made her a difficult person to shock when it comes to stories like Jamie’s. The possibilities Keisling sees for Jamie are many — and none are very positive.

“She’s more likely to be disrespected by the medical community and law enforcement,” says Keisling, which could prevent her from getting help in a crisis.

Keisling added that it’s “fairly common” for transgender people to be victims of violent criminals who “often will look for the most marginalized people.”

These kinds of possibilities weigh on John Boeglin’s mind, especially because he admits that over the years, he’s wished Jamie would stop being such a nuisance in the family.

“He’s done something to alienate every one of the siblings,” says John. “But when it’s like this, we want him to be around.”

Even their tumultuous family life hasn’t broken the bond of blood, and John dwells on the times he and his siblings wished for Jamie to leave them alone: “For a long time we really wished he would disappear, and now he has. We wish we’d never had those moments of thought.”

—  John Wright

Fort Worth police looking for LGBT recruits

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead, center, with the Rev. Carol West and David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth

One of the ways that Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead has been trying to reach out to the LGBT community in his city, following the raid on the Rainbow Lounge last summer, is to actively recruit police trainees from the LGBT community. In keeping with that effort, FWPD liaison to the LGBT community Officer Sara Straten sent me an e-mail this morning about the department’s current recruitment efforts.

I posted something about this here on Instant Tea not too long ago, but this time, I have a little more info. So here you go.

FWPD will be accepting applications online for police officer trainees from July 22 to Aug. 6. To apply, go here, and look for the Police Officer Trainee link.

The FW Police Academy course is 31 weeks long, and trainees receive a salary of $37,377 per year ( or $3,114/month) plus benefits during training. Those who graduate and join the force get a raise to $52,187 per year (or $4,348/month). And those who have military experience and G.I. Bill benefits can access those benefits during training.

The FWPD recruiter is Officer David Garcia. You can reach him via e-mail at david.garcia@fortworthgov.org.

—  admin

Rainbow Lounge to mark anniversary of raid with party Monday


Rally protesting Rainbow Lounge raid
Within hours of Fort Worth police and TABC agents raiding the Rainbow Lounge on July 28, 2009 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — angry LGBT people and allies staged a protest outside the nightclub.

Monday, June 28 will be the one-year anniversary of the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, and the club will mark the date with a barbecue party, plus a meet-and-greet with Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead and about 20 of his officers, including the deputy chief and beat officers for the area.

The party is set for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Rainbow Lounge patio, 651 S. Jennings, and the first 125 people to get there will get barbecue and soft drinks.

A whole lot has changed in Fort Worth in the 12 months since two agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and several FWPD officers raided the then-newly-opened gay bar on the 40th anniversary — almost to the minute — of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York. Watch the July 2 issue of Dallas Voice for a story on those changes.

We have had TONS and TONS of coverage of the raid and its aftermath. Here is one of our earliest stories.

—  admin

FWPD apologizes to WFAA for calling report 'incomprehensible' and 'unethical'

The Fort Worth Police Department issued a press release Friday apologizing to WFAA-TV and producer Chris Guillory for calling their reporting about an April 30 murder near the Rainbow Lounge “incomprehensible and unethical.” WFAA’s original May 1 story has since been removed from the station’s website, but here’s a line from it that I lifted for this blog at the time: “Investigators are not sure of the circumstances that left the unidentified man dead in the parking lot of the business in the 600 block of South Jennings Avenue.”

As it turned out, the man’s body was found in the 500 block of South Cannon Street, a few blocks away, prompting FWPD to slam WFAA in an Editor’s Note for linking the crime to last year’s raid on the gay bar. Now then, here’s Friday’s apology from FWPD:

The FWPD apologizes to WFAA-TV producer, Chris Guillory, and to WFAA-TV for calling their initial coverage of the tragic events of April 30, 2010 “incomprehensible and unethical” as well as “purposefully misleading” and would like to thank WFAA-TV for running a correction to the initial story.

FWPD hereby retracts the above-mentioned statements and suggestions. Although the story posted on WFAA-TV’s web site was attributed to Chris Guillory, FWPD acknowledges that Mr. Guillory was not the reporter at the scene.  Any characterizations about the story attributed to Mr. Guillory are specifically retracted.

FWPD will continue to monitor media characterizations of news events for accuracy and will strive to address inaccuracies in a rapid and professional manner.

As far as I know, we’re the only outlet who published the Editor’s Note, although it presumably was distributed to all media. So for the record, we’re sorry too, WFAA, although I’m pretty sure you can’t sue us.

—  John Wright

Police say there's no link between apparent robbery/murder and the Rainbow Lounge

An 72-year-old man found beaten to death last night in Fort Worth was inside a vehicle two blocks from the Rainbow Lounge, not in the bar’s parking lot as reported earlier by a TV station, police said Saturday.

Authorities have established no link between the victim, whom they did not identify, and the gay bar on South Jennings. They said the man’s death appeared to be a result of a robbery, and there is no reason to believe it was a hate crime.

According to a press release from the Fort Worth Police Department, officers were summoned to Hemphill and West Cannon at about 9:45 p.m.

A witness directed officers to a parked vehicle in the 500 block of West Cannon. Inside the gray Mazda four-door, police found a 72-year-old male who’d apparently suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

—  John Wright

Report: Man found dead outside Rainbow Lounge had been mugged but refused help

Note: AN UPDATE TO THIS POST IS HERE.

We’re still awaiting a press release from the Fort Worth Police Department about a man who was found beaten to death outside the Rainbow Lounge last night. In the meantime here’s a report from David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth:

Several Fairness Fort Worth board members came to the scene as soon as we heard and had a brief opportunity to speak with police. Understandably, in the midst of an active investigation, they could only share so much at that point, but here’s what we know. Approximately 9:30 an “elderly gentleman” was walking in the vicinity of W. Cannon St. a half-block south of the Rainbow Lounge. He was mugged and beaten but remained conscious. The officer I spoke with shared that someone (whom they’ve interviewed) came upon this gentleman and offered to help by calling 911 or otherwise. The victim replied no, that he would drive himself to the hospital. Apparently, he didn’t get that chance as he was discovered deceased shortly afterward.

—  John Wright