A social media campaign is urging the District Attorney in Corinth, Mississippi to investigate a possible hate crime after a gay man was violently beaten at a Walmart parking lot.
Corinth Police Chief Ralph Dance told WTVA that 23-year-old James David Scott assaulted 26-year-old Devin Norman at around 1 p.m. on Friday over a Facebook post that Dance called “apparently sexual in nature.”
Norman claims Scott beat him because of his sexual orientation. Witnesses say Scott had called him a “faggot” during the confrontation. Witnesses also saw Scott kick Norman in the face six or seven times, leaving the victim with serious facial injuries including a broken cheekbone.
But Norman insisted that he no longer had the photos.
“I was bluffing, hoping that he would back away from me because his body language was so threatening, and violence scares me,” he recalled.
Scott has now admitted he is in fact responsible for the attack, but said he was not motivated by Norman’s sexual orientation.
Scott told WREG-TV he was a closeted bisexual man before this incident happened and claimed Norman threatened to let people know he liked men.
“When he turned on me, my first reaction was to protect myself, and it went too far,” Scott said.
“I cannot see how it could be a hate crime,” Scott told WREG. “I don’t even have an emotional hatred for him. The only thing I dislike about it was that he took something from me…I should have know better. I should have been more of an adult. I should have thought before I acted.”
Scott’s charges are likely to be upgraded from assault to aggravated assault after police found out the victim had broken bones.
“It’s my understanding of if it’s a hate crime it had to be based merely on the fact he was homosexual,” Chief Dance said. “We don’t have that here.”
An FBI spokesperson issued the following statement:
“The FBI has been made aware of the allegations surrounding this incident, and appropriate investigative action is being taken to determine whether a violation of federal law has occurred.”