After a story appeared in Friday’s Dallas Voice about an attack on a gay couple, Fort Worth police have decided to look into the assault as a possible hate crime.

Several members of Fairness Fort Worth contacted the office of Chief Jeffrey Halstead.

Fairness Fort Worth’s David Mack Henderson wrote, “Marvin Vann, a local GLBT teacher and parent in FW reached out on his own to make inquiries with the FWPD. Tom Anable has been doing the same in more direct channels, of course, discussing criteria for hate crimes investigations, officer and paramedic conduct, etc. Marvin just got these email responses today from Halstead’s chief of staff, Paul Henderson (no relation to David).”

Here’s what Paul Henderson wrote to Vann:

Thank you for your email. Our Major Case investigators (this unit investigates Hate Crime) reviewed the details of the case to determine if the assault meets the criteria to be classified as a “Hate Crime.” There are two distinct forms of hate-type incidents.

One is a Hate Crime which falls under the definition provided by the Department of Justice and basically states that in order for a crime to be classified as a “Hate Crime” it has to be “motivated” by prejudice against a particular person or group because of their culture, beliefs, or other factors.

The other form is considered a Hate/Biased Incident. This stems from a crime that is committed (such as a robbery, assault, homicide, destruction of property) for other motivations that are not necessarily connected to culture, beliefs, etc… If a suspect commits a crime, let’s say assault, due to an altercation as a result from a traffic accident or because the suspect felt an individual was looking at his girlfriend (which was the circumstance in the case you have referenced) and the suspect yells a slur during the process, this is considered a Hate/Biased Incident because it does not meet the criteria for a Hate Crime under the DOJ definition.

Hate crimes are filed and prosecuted federally therefore agencies must adhere to the definition provided by the DOJ. I would encourage you to go to the FBI’s website and click on information regarding Hate Crimes. The assault you reference is being investigated as a Hate/Biased Incident. Once the investigation is complete and evidence is revealed that would classify this as a Hate Crime, the FBI will then review and make a determination whether or not to file the federal charge.

I hope this helps! Thank you for your interest and your support in fighting all types of hate crime and hate/biased incidents.

In another email to Vann, Henderson wrote, “As a follow-up, I just learned that Major Case is accepting the investigation and will investigate as a Hate Crime. Thanks again for your email.”