The four men who attacked a gay couple during Miami Beach Pride in April definitely yelled an anti-gay slur at the men. That, their attorney will concede.
But there’s no way it was a hate crime, he says. And the gay father of one of the suspects is rushing to his defense.
Attorney Dennis Gonzales tells INTO that his clients had no way of knowing that Dmitry Logunov and Rene Chalarca were gay.
Juan Carlos Lopez, Luis M. Alonso Piovet, Adonis Diaz, and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa face enhanced hate crime charges after they were caught on video surveillance allegedly hitting the couple and assaulting a bystander who tried to intervene April 8. They could face up to 30 years in prison.
The incident started outside a restroom near 6th Street and Ocean Drive where according to police, the four men “randomly” attacked the couple. One man yelled “maricones,” Spanish for “faggot,” before hitting Chalarca several times, according to the police report. The couple tried to flee, but the men pursued them.
Logunov told INTO there was no question in his mind the incident was a hate crime.
“It was purely a hate crime because after my boyfriend got beat up they were still chasing him and they still threatened him,” he said. “They were asking him if he ‘wants to get some more faggot.’ So can you consider it as any other crime?”
The fight left a pool of blood where bystander Helmut Muller was injured in the head. He was transported to the hospital with a minor laceration. The couple suffered cuts and bruises.
According to a police report, the four men fled the scene. They later surrendered themselves to police.
Gonzales does not dispute that his clients yelled the word “maricones,” but he says that happened after the attack and that insults were exchanged between both parties.
“This is a brief encounter,” he said, “It all happens in a matter of seconds. It’s our position really that there’s no way that these individuals could have known that the two alleged victims in the case at least with respect to what happened in the bathroom, that they were gay or what their sexual orientation was.”
Complicating matters is the fact that Juan Carlos Lopez’s father is gay and says he raised Lopez with his partner of 15 years.
In an interview with NBC Miami, Juan Lopez says his son and his friends would never have attacked gay people.
“I’m sure 100 percent of that,” he said. “He respects everybody in this community. He loves LGBT.”
Pressed on what initiated the attack, Gonzales said he could not go into detail while the case was still pending.
image via YouTube