• Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

2 charged with robbery, hate crime after attack on transgender women in Hollywood

Two men have been charged and accused of a hate crime in the robbery and assault on three transgender women in Hollywood last month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Los Angeles police deputy chief has called out the inaction of onlookers who recorded the attack early Aug. 17 rather than helping those attacked as “callous.”

Carlton Callaway, 29, of Compton, and Davion Williams, 22, also of Compton, are facing charges.

The LAPD has said that Callaway made derogatory comments about the women during the attack.

Callaway allegedly approached the women and offered to buy them items from a nearby store, he then refused to pay for the items, they left, and then Callaway “approached one of the victims with a metal bar and demanded her shoes and bracelet,” police have said.

That woman escaped, but Callaway allegedly attacked her friend with a bottle, police said.

Williams is accused of joining in the attack and stealing from one of the women, the district attorney’s office said in the statement.

Callaway allegedly used a steel rod, and Williams allegedly used a rideshare scooter as a weapon.

It was not immediately clear if Callaway or Williams had attorneys who could speak on their behalf Tuesday evening. Phone numbers could not be found for either in an online database of public records.

The district attorney’s office said arraignment would take place at a later date.

One the victims, Jaslene Busanet, said in an Instagram Live video at the time that she was hit in the head with a bottle because she is transgender, and that onlookers crowded around but no one called 911.

“When I got hit in the back of my f—ing head, and I fell to the ground, do you know what people did? Everyone crowded around me, laughing at me, recording me, telling me I deserved that,” she said in the video.

LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore has condemned the attack and said that ” “these types of instances of hate and violence have no place in Los Angeles.”

The LAPD in August announced the arrest of a third man on an extortion charge, but that charge was declined by the district attorney’s office because of insufficient evidence, DA’s office spokesman Greg Risling said.

Requests for comment from two of the victims were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Terra Russell-Slavin, director of policy and community building for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which had pushed for hate crimes to be filed in the case, applauded the charges.

“I think we’re really encouraged to see that the prosecutors moved forward with both filing charges and ensuring the charges had a hate crime enhancement,” Russell-Slavin said, adding that “hate crimes are really an attack on the whole community.”

Members of the LGBT community, and particularly transgender and transgender people of color, are at risk of violence, Russell-Slavin said.

There have been at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people killed by acts of violence in the United States in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Last year, advocates tracked 27 killings, the majority of whom were Black transgender women, the HRC says.

Callaway has been charged with grand theft from the person of another, second-degree robbery, criminal threats, attempted second-degree robbery, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury, the district attorney’s office statement said.

Williams is charged with grand theft and assault with a deadly weapon.

If convicted as charged, Callaway faces up to 13 years and four months in prison, and Williams faces up to eight years and four months in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.