Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley on Friday accused L.A. mayor James Hahn of pandering to a "vigilante mentality" in trying to pressure prosecutors into filing hate-crime charges in two attacks on gay men in West Hollywood last month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a letter to Hahn, Cooley accused the mayor of using the memory of Matthew Shepard, a man murdered in Wyoming because he was gay, as a political tool. The letter called Hahn's advice "professionally troubling and inflammatory." On Thursday Hahn, in addressing a crowd of 300 gathered to remember Shepard in West Hollywood, said that Cooley's decision not to file hate-crime charges in the September 2 attacks had sent "the wrong message." Earlier, Hahn had sent a letter to Cooley saying that the decision had "perpetuated the harm that was caused by these attacks."
Actor Trev Broudy was attacked on Cynthia Street just outside his apartment after hugging his friend Edward Ulett. He was hit several times with a baseball bat and spent more than a month in the hospital before being released last week. That same morning, Christopher Roehm was also attacked.
The district attorney's office charged three men from south-central Los Angeles with attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery, but it did not file hate-crime allegations. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to six to 19 years in prison. An additional hate-crime charge could add two years.
Prosecutors have said that no antigay epithets were yelled in either attack on September 2. In one beating, one of the victims identified the alleged assailants; in the other, no identification was made. Cooley's letter condemned Hahn, a former city attorney, for judging the case without first reviewing the evidence.