Whitewater police do not believe a late October fight was a hate crime—contrary to some social media posts and comments, the city’s police chief said Monday.
A photo posted on Facebook on Oct. 26 shows three people facing someone, and a caption claims the three people beat up the fourth and used racial slurs.
Chief Aaron Raap said the department’s investigation shows the incident was “victim precipitated,” meaning the fourth person—the complainant to police—was intoxicated and the one who started the altercation, according to witness accounts and video of the incident reviewed by police.
The complainant was the one making the remarks about race, Raap said, adding that the man’s mother told police he was “mixed race.”
He said Monday the investigation is nearly complete. Police still were waiting for medical records to confirm details about injuries, which police did not believe were severe.
Police have yet to decide what municipal citations or criminal charges they might recommend, he said. He could not yet release some details about the incident while police considered their next steps, he said.
Whitewater police last week asked for help identifying the other three subjects in the photo, and Raap said they all volunteered to speak with police after the message went out on Facebook.
“Talking to those other three helped us, but it really just solidified what we already had thought,” he said.
Raap said social media can be helpful to police but also cause difficulties.
“It’s like, ‘You guys, calm down. Everybody please calm down. Let us investigate,’” Raap said.
He also disputed a claim from the photo posted on Facebook that there was “another victim of a hate crime in Whitewater.” Raap said he and his staff did not remember of any such crimes. He said his department has no problem seeking such charges “if they’re merited.”