Possible hate crime in Port Angeles now Assault 4

PORT ANGELES — A report last summer of a black man beaten while being called a racial slur, which was investigated as a hate crime, has resulted in misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault against one man and obstructing a law officer and making a false statement to police against a second man.

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols signed the District Court 1 criminal complaints Wednesday against Corey L. Stone, 19, and David Robert Love, 20, both Port Angeles-area residents.

The first court appearances for Stone, charged with assault, and Love, charged with obstruction and making a false statement, are at 9 a.m. May 23.

Port Angeles police and the FBI had investigated the reported assault of Quinn Smith, then 22, as a possible felony hate crime under state and federal statutes, Nichols said Friday and Police Chief Brian Smith said Saturday.

Chief Smith said the case also was reviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Nichols, who also reviewed the case for a possible hate-crime charge, said injuries inflicted in fourth-degree assaults are the least physically injurious under state laws for assault.

“Assault 4 is more like a schoolyard fight,” Nichols said.

Quinn Smith was treated for contusions, abrasions and a facial welt and released from Olympic Medical Center shortly after the attack reported at about 2:30 a.m. July 17 between the Eighth Street bridges.

Quinn described an unprovoked assault in which he was called the N-word and beaten.

He said his attacker was among about a half-dozen high-school-age people, both males and females, who approached him after they drove up and got out of three vehicles at West Ninth and Cedar streets while he was walking from a bar to a friend’s house.

Chief Smith said Saturday “there was some level of acquaintance, some level in this encounter” between Quinn Smith and his alleged attacker.

“The male kept calling him racial slurs and said that he [Quinn Smith] was going to die,” Police Officer Harold Balderson’s said in a case report he wrote later on the same day of the attack.

Quinn Smith told police that while he was being pummelled, he feared for his life, so he did not fight back.

When the man stopped hitting him, and as another man approached him, Quinn Smith pulled out his cellphone to call 9-1-1, and the group fled, he told the PDN in a Nov. 30 interview.

“Growing up my whole life, I’ve been used to being called racial slurs,” he said in the interview.

“But I’ve never been attacked over my skin color.

“That was a game changer to me.”

Quinn Smith, who was a Port Angeles resident at the time of the assault, could not be reached Saturday for comment.

An FBI spokeswoman did not return an email for comment Saturday afternoon.

A state felony charge of malicious harassment — “Washington’s version of a hate crime,” Nichols said — was considered .

But Nichols said it did not fit the crime.

A person is guilty of malicious harassment for causing physical injury to a person because of religion, sexual orientation or other factors including the victim’s race or if one threatens a person for any of those reasons to the point that it makes them fearful of being harmed.

“One of the charges considered by law enforcement was malicious harassment,” Nichols said.

“The investigation took them in a different direction based on the facts presented.”

“We have charged the crime based on the facts we can prove.”

Nichols said the Port Angeles Police Department referred the case to his office with the assault and false-statement recommendations, and that he added the obstruction charge based on what he read in police reports.

Chief Smith told the PDN on Sept. 2 that the assault, combined with racial slurs, “absolutely” makes the offense a hate crime and a civil rights violation.

“We believe victims in crimes,” he said in the interview.

“In the beginning, we only knew what we knew from one party,” he said Saturday.

“One of the reasons this took so long was this thing was thoroughly investigated.

“A lot more was discovered about what happened.”

Nichols and Chief Smith said they could not provide specifics about what led to the charges against Stone and Love.

A PDN public records request for the investigative report was denied before the criminal complaints were filed last week.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].