Trial set for 3 of 5 charged in May Capitol Hill hate crime beating

(Image: Oleg Zharsky with permission to CHS)

(Image: Oleg Zharsky with permission to CHS)

The trial date has been set for three out of town men charged with a hate crime for the violent May 30 beating of a black man outside the Comet Tavern. Two other men arrested in the incident have been ordered by a King County Superior Court judge to attend an classes at the Community Center for Alternative Programs.

Trey Amberson, 22, Justin Echols, 22, and Aaron Nelson, 21, are scheduled for a group trial August 27 before Judge Jim Rodgers. William Berger, 21, and Zachary Kocikhill, 21, were ordered to attend classes. Attorneys for the three going to trial did not return requests for comment. All five pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charge in June.

Witnesses of the 10th and Pike incident told police they saw the group violently beat the black male with fists and a skateboard while shouting “nigger” and “faggot.” Following the incident, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to charge all five with malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime statute. According to police reports, the victim said he did not know the five men and did not know why he had been targeted.

Prosecutors emphasized the men had no local ties. According to court documents, four of the five had previous criminal records. Amberson has warrants in Idaho and Alabama. Berger was busted earlier this year for trespass in Florida. Echols also has a criminal record in Florida. Nelson was given a deferred disposition for a 2011 domestic violence incident.

The trial comes amid a string of hate crime activity on the Hill this summer. Police are investigating a reported hate beating that occurred Monday morning near the Starbucks on E Olive Way. Last month saw this E Pike beating and another possible hate incident at 23rd and John.

Following Monday’s reported beating, a spokesperson tells CHS there are enough cops on the street and the department can’t comment on specific staffing numbers. “Still,  no one here is going to complain if we get more staff. East Precinct is no exception!” the spokesperson writes.

SPD says 911 response time remains on target — even after midnight:

Officers are deployed in keeping with our Neighborhood Policing Plan. That means every officer has 30% of their shift available for problem oriented policing and emergency 911 calls have an average 7 minute response time regardless of precinct or watch.

More on NPP here: http://www.seattle.gov/police/programs/NPP.htm

As for discussion of re-starting efforts like the old school Q-Patrol, in May, East Precinct’s brass told a community group such efforts were actually counter-productive:

Knittel also said SPD and other officials advised against any kind of revival of a group like the old Q-Patrol — one possible approach that has been brought up on the Hill from time to time as crime waves peak. “We’re not going to organize a Q-Patrol,” Knittel said. “Police and other leaders don’t want a Q-Patrol. It’s a rise in violent crime.” Having groups like the volunteer public safety enforcers on the street would possibly just add to the problem, officials fear.

There have been no arrests in Monday’s beating that left its victim with a broken nose and police have not yet been able to release any additional suspect description info as the search for witnesses and evidence continues.

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8 thoughts on “Trial set for 3 of 5 charged in May Capitol Hill hate crime beating

  1. If there are enough cops on the street why do we so rarely see them? Where are they when all of these crimes are occurring on Capitol Hill? I almost *never* see cops in my part of the Hill.

  2. I feel comforted knowing that if someone wants to jump me while I walk Capitol Hill, my assailants have a good 5-6 minutes to really work me over before they have to hop in a car and leave.

  3. Typical SPD answer, “there’s enough police on the street”. Follow up question HOW MANY? “Oh we don’t share that information” So much for transparency

  4. According to Mayor McGinn, the East Precinct “employs 126 sworn and civilian personnel”. Assuming three watches (I have no idea if there are three or two to be honest), a rough number is probably about 40 cops on at any given time, to serve an area as large as the EP. A 7-minute average response time seems very long, especially when that is an average, and you could really be waiting 10 minutes or more. THIS is why every crime report written in this blog ends with “police searched the area and could not locate the suspects.” Seven minutes after any crime, any mobile criminal will be on the freeway and long gone. I don’t blame the cops. I blame those who decide how many police are appropriate for such a large and, lately, troubled area.

    • This is also a great reason why Capitol Hill residents should not hesitate to call the police, even for minor complaints. Use the non-emergency number if you don’t feel 911 is appropriate. The department can use the number of calls to justify more officers for an area.

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