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Teen arrested in attack investigated as potential hate crime

April 4, 2021 Updated Sun., April 4, 2021 at 1:45 p.m.

Associated Press

TACOMA — Washington state authorities have arrested a teenage boy on an assault charge after video emerged of an attack on an Asian couple and police began investigating it as a potential hate crime.

It will be up to prosecutors whether to pursue a malicious assault charge — which would make it a hate crime case — against the suspect who was 14 at the time of the alleged attack, Tacoma Police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said Sunday.

The victim, a Korean man who was 56 at the time, suffered a broken rib when he was punched by an assailant while walking with his wife in Tacoma in November.

The couple filed a police report but there was no mention at the time that the attack could have been racially motivated, Haddow said.

When video of the alleged attack emerged last week, Haddow said officers elevated the investigation to consider if it was a hate crime in light of recent attacks nationwide against Americans of Asian descent.

No derogatory statements about Asians can be heard during the video, Haddow said.

The victim’s family told KIRO-TV that they eventually left Tacoma because they felt unsafe following the attack and had never heard back from police.

The victim’s daughter reached out to authorities again last week after seeing news reports about the video of the attack, Haddow said. That’s when investigators were able to connect the video with the November assault report, she said.

“Without that video we would not have been able to make an arrest,” Haddow said.

Tacoma reported 24 hate crimes in 2020 and 25 in 2019, but there was no indication any were aimed explicitly at Asian people, Haddow said.

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