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Police chief apologizes to gay man beaten outside bar

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick apologized Thursday to Danny Hawkins, the gay man who was beaten last week in what he alleged was a hate crime.

“Hawkins did not feel he was fairly or respectfully treated or that his position was accurately portrayed by SPD PIOs (public information officers),” the Spokane Police Department said in a news release Friday. “It is always our goal to treat every citizen with respect and dignity,” the release said.

Hawkins, a gay rights advocate and board member of OutSpokane, was involved in a fight outside Dempsey’s Brass Rail on Oct. 7. He said the man he was fighting became more violent and shouted “homophobic slurs” after Hawkins told him he was gay.

Police said they will not refer the case to prosecutors for possible charges, however, because they did not find witnesses who heard those comments.

“My case has been closed,” Hawkins wrote in an email. “I do not believe justice was served, but understand why the police are closing it. The responding officers did not state the complete facts in their report so no further action can be taken.”

Corey Fortune, the treasurer of OutSpokane who attended the meeting with Hawkins and Kirkpatrick, said the police chief’s apology was “completely heartfelt. I felt compassion from her I didn’t expect. She wants to make sure that if there is an issue, that it is resolved properly.”

Hawkins’ primary complaints were that police told the media he was drunk and seemed to blame him for the attack. Kirkpatrick apologized for those statements and for officers’ seemingly “assigning fault to me,” Hawkins wrote.

Kirkpatrick and several other city officials met Thursday with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Hawkins viewed the meeting as a good first step that “has opened a dialogue between the Spokane Police Department and the LGBT community.”

Those present discussed what steps to take if they felt they were the victim of a hate crime. “Hate crimes are happening in Spokane. This is a fact,” Hawkins wrote. “No one ever said that there is a gang of people coming after the LGBT community, but many of us are considered easier targets for violence.”

There are future meetings planned, Fortune said, adding, “We are working with the police, and they are working with us.”