Gay man charged in Mid­town as­sault

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­

An At­lanta man was ar­rested Jan. 15 in the vi­o­lent at­tack on a Mid­town cou­ple that caused one man to be thrown into on­com­ing traf­fic on Ju­niper Street last March.

At­lanta po­lice ar­rested Diego Ernesto Ramirez, 23, for “Bat­tery Sub­stan­tial Phys­i­cal Harm.” Ramirez has a prior ar­rest for bat­tery from May 2013. The ar­rest fol­lows a month­long GA Voice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment’s han­dling of hate crimes com­mit­ted against the LGBT com­mu­nity.

The Mid­town at­tack oc­curred on March 7, 2014, when the cou­ple walked to the in­ter­sec­tion of 11th and Ju­niper streets, in front of LGBT-fa­vorite restau­rant Joe’s On Ju­niper. The sus­pect jumped out of a car and called the cou­ple, who was hold­ing hands, “fag­gots,” then punched one of the men in the back of the head and pushed him into on­com­ing traf­fic. The vic­tim suf­fered blood­ied hands from the fall but no ma­jor head wound; he de­clined med­i­cal treat­ment.

The in­ci­dent was caught on Mid­town Blue pub­lic safety force se­cu­rity cam­eras, and the vic­tims recorded cell­phone video of the sus­pect, the driver of the car and the li­cense plate.

The GA Voice first re­ported the in­ci­dent in a Dec. 10 story after re­view­ing po­lice re­ports of the 12 hate crimes com­mit­ted against the LGBT com­mu­nity in 2014. At the time, only one of the 12 crimes had been solved, and the LGBT li­ai­son unit was no­ti­fied in only half the in­ci­dents, in vi­o­la­tion of the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment’s Stan­dard Op­er­at­ing Pro­ce­dure. An APD spokesper­son said the depart­ment was up­dat­ing its SOP to en­sure the LGBT li­ai­son unit is no­ti­fied im­me­di­ately in all fu­ture such cases.


Bryan Long, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the pro­gres­sive po­lit­i­cal group Bet­ter Ge­or­gia and the vic­tim’s boyfriend, told the GA Voice shortly after the ar­rest that he and his part­ner were brought into At­lanta po­lice head­quar­ters for a photo lineup, fol­low­ing a tip from some­one who claimed to know the iden­tity of the sus­pect and con­tacted Crime Stop­pers fol­low­ing me­dia cov­er­age of the in­ci­dent. Crime Stop­pers set a $2,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest of the sus­pect.

The two pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied the sus­pect and were told by the APD that po­lice went to his home but he wasn’t there

Long also says the tip­ster claimed the driver and pas­sen­ger had “an on and off re­la­tion­ship for awhile and it’s filled with vi­o­lence,” and that he hopes the driver is brought to jus­tice as well.

“There were two peo­ple in­volved in this at­tack, not just one,” Long says. “And the driver of the car lied to the po­lice ini­tially say­ing he didn’t know the pas­sen­ger. Now we know that that’s not true. So I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing more about this and their re­la­tion­ship as we move for­ward.”

Long did not mince words when grad­ing the At­lanta po­lice’s han­dling of the case.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed that it took 10 months and I’m dis­ap­pointed that over the past two weeks that the po­lice have not been more proac­tive. I’ve had to push ev­ery step of the way to keep the At­lanta Po­lice Depart­ment fo­cused on this,” he says.

Long says he’s not just wor­ried about him­self and his part­ner, but also oth­ers in the LGBT com­mu­nity who have found them­selves in a sim­i­lar predica­ment.

“I’m con­cerned about the gay com­mu­nity in At­lanta and I be­lieve that there’s a lot of talk from the po­lice depart­ment that they’re fo­cused on th­ese types of crimes but it’s dif­fi­cult to see the ac­tion when the only two re­solved cases of hate crimes from last year re­ceived a great deal of me­dia at­ten­tion,” he says.

“I’m wor­ried about the cases that haven’t been solved and didn’t get the me­dia at­ten­tion. If the stan­dard now is that you have to get the gay me­dia in At­lanta to write about your crime for it to be solved, then that’s the wrong stan­dard and that needs to be changed.”

The APD did not re­turn a re­quest for com­ment.

Diego Ramirez. (Cour­tesy Ful­ton County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment)

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