King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has decided to charge the five men arrested in last Wednesday night’s violent street beating at 10th and Pike with a hate crime.
Justin Echols, 22, Trey Amberson, 22, Aaron Nelson, 21, William Berger, 21, and Zachary Kocikhill, 21, face charges of malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime statute.
Police say the five violently beat a 20-year-old black male with their fists and a skateboard while shouting “nigger” and “faggot” in the May 29th incident. According to the police report on the beating, the victim said he did not know the five men and did not know why he had been targeted but said he had punched a female previous to the fight after she had called him a “snitch.” The “snitch” incident is not mentioned in the prosecutor’s charging document.
Police say they were called to the scene at 10th and Pike just before 10 PM after a caller reported a group harassing people in the area had violently turned on a black male and were beating him. Police arrived to find five males on E Pike matching the group’s description. As they spoke to the suspects, the victim showed up, still bleeding, and told police he had been beaten by the males.
In requesting $10,000 bail for the suspects, prosecutors emphasized that each of the five has “no local ties.” Amberson told police he arrived last week in Seattle for Folklife from California and has warrants in Idaho and Alabama. Berger was busted earlier this year for trespass in Florida. Echols also has a criminal record in Florida.