Four Seattle-area teens have been arrested on assault and hate crime-related charges for allegedly attacking a legally blind transgender woman following an altercation on a bus.
According to the King County Sheriff’s Office, the woman told detectives that she was involved with an altercation with the teenagers while they were waiting for the bus at the Tukwila International Boulevard Station on Tuesday night. She claims the teens made comments that she felt were threatening and derogatory.
After boarding the bus, the woman sat near the front of the bus, while the teens sat in the back. Around 10:20 p.m., the woman moved to the back of the bus as she prepared to exit at South 180th Street and Andover Park West, and engaged in a verbal altercation with the teens before pepper-spraying them.
The teens followed the woman and beat her, kicking and punching her while calling her derogatory names based on her gender identity.
One of the teens had a realistic-looking BB gun and another had a hatchet, but neither weapon was used in the assault, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office told The Seattle Times.
Witnesses recorded the incident on a cell phone. That video and eyewitness testimony were used to identify the four teens, who were arrested on Wednesday and booked into the King County youth detention center.
The attack is being investigated as a hate crime, which would carry additional penalties if prosecutors choose to pursue bias enhancements.
Additional video footage has been obtained from the bus, and is being reviewed as part of the investigation.
The victim was transported to a local hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, before being released.
Authorities do not believe she will be charged for pepper-spraying the teens because they escalated the situation by assaulting her afterward, although a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said that typically the woman’s actions could have resulted in her being charged as well.
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