The transgender woman who was allegedly assaulted and harassed by two men on the streets of St. Albans last week may have been left humiliated and injured by her attackers, but that is not going to stop her from potentially taking the stand against them, according to her attorney.
Rasheed Thomas, 22, of Jamaica, and Nathaniel Sims, 25, of the Bronx, were arraigned last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on several charges, including assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and harassment for the July 8 attack on Carnella Etienne, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
Etienne’s attorney, Michael Silverman, of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said his client suffered major cuts and bruises, but the real pain was more psychological.
“She is really shaken up. She’s scared to go out because she fears that there will be retribution,” he said.
The incident allegedly took place at the corner of 199th Street and 116th Avenue, where Etienne, 22, was walking around 8:30 p.m. July 8, Queens DA Richard Brown said. Etienne was allegedly struck on her foot with a rock by Sims and Thomas, who yelled slurs while throwing more rocks, according to Brown.
They allegedly shouted, “Don’t ever walk that block anymore or we will slash your throat,” according to the DA. Etienne, told the men she was calling the police, but they responded, “The police don’t care about you, they won’t do anything to us,” Brown said.
When the woman called 911 on her cell phone, Sims and Thomas allegedly threw empty beer bottles at her, according to the DA. One of them hit Etienne in the leg and created a three-inch laceration, Brown said.
While Thomas was being questioned by police, he allegedly said, “I didn’t know you could get locked up for calling somebody names. I called her a bunch of names, I called her a [expletive], but she didn’t see me throw anything,” according to Brown.
If convicted, both suspects face up to 15 years in prison, the DA said. Silverman said Etienne would testify in criminal court against Sims and Thomas if she were asked by the DA’s office.
On June 20, Gilberto Ortiz and Trinidad Tapia were arraigned on assault and weapons possession charges after they allegedly beat transgender female Leslie Mora in Woodside early that morning. Silverman, who also represents Mora, said the accused shouted slurs at Mora while she was being attacked, but the criminal complaint does not mention those allegations.
The attorney said he has been putting pressure on Brown’s office to upgrade the charges against Mora’s alleged attackers.
“From our perspective, when you hit a transgender with a belt and call her a faggot, that is a hate crime,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Queens DA’s office said it was investigating Silverman’s claims and no decision had been made as of press time Tuesday to charge Ortiz and Tapia with hate crimes.
Jeremy Walsh contributed to this article.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2009 Community News Group
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