September 28, 1996 in City

Race Called Reason Woman Not Arrested

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Parents of a University High student question whether race is a reason the woman who allegedly stabbed their son has not been arrested.

Tim Buchanan, who is black, and eyewitnesses said he was stabbed Sept. 7 at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds by the mother of an East Valley student he was fighting.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Buchanan’s parents say if the situation were reversed, they believe their son would be in jail.

“If my son stabs a white woman and there are witnesses that say they saw him do it, well, I’ll tell you this, he’s not going to be sitting on my living room sofa right now,” said Bernice Buchanan.

Unity in Action, a grass-roots human rights coalition, has expressed concern about the lack of an arrest.

“I feel perfectly justified in saying that it’s a racial incident,” said Rusty Nelson of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

“I’m concerned about why this woman was not arrested at the scene, and I have a problem believing they have to wait a month before making an arrest.”

According to Spokane County sheriff’s Lt. John Simmons, race has nothing to do with any delays in arresting a suspect.

“I believe this investigation would have been handled in the same manner had the participants all been of the same race,” Simmons said Friday. “This is not a black-and-white issue.”

The case was presented to the prosecutor’s office this week and may be reviewed as early as next week, according to Simmons.

Sheriff’s Detective Cal Walker said arrests weren’t made at the fair because so many witnesses had to be interviewed.

Walker said that when sheriff’s deputies arrived at the fair, an estimated 150 to 200 people were scuffling in the parking lot. Some deputies were kicked and punched in the fight as well.

The fighting began after Buchanan and his classmates tried to leave the fairgrounds. They had an earlier confrontation with some East Valley students.

According to Buchanan, a female acquaintance, who was an East Valley student, told him she heard her classmates making negative remarks about Buchanan and his friends. He said those remarks weren’t racially motivated.

Buchanan admitted he and his friends confronted the East Valley group and shouted at each other, but there was no physical confrontation at the time.

Shortly after that, Buchanan and his friends tried to leave the fair but were confronted by the East Valley students.

The East Valley students got out of their cars and started pounding on the hood of the car driven by Buchanan’s University classmate Tim Pugh.

“Someone started hitting Tim’s car, so he got out,” Buchanan said. “I was like, ‘Naw Tim, man, don’t get out. They’ve got us outnumbered.”’

When Pugh got out of the car, fists and racial slurs started flying from the East Valley students, according to Buchanan. Pugh suffered a concussion.

As Buchanan fought with an East Valley rival, he claims the student’s mother tried to separate them.

As the two larger students continued to fight, Buchanan said the woman returned and stabbed him at least three times and sprayed him with Mace.

“As an adult, I’d expect her to try to do whatever she could to stop the violence,” Bernice Buchanan said. “And you can’t do that by becoming violent. I don’t know, I just feel real bad that this woman hasn’t been arrested.”

, DataTimes


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