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|Alleged gay bashing at Atlantic Station remains unsolved|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|August 17, 2012 00:00|
With 50 surveillance cameras located throughout Atlantic Station’s 138-acre complex of residences and retail businesses, finding out exactly when and where a gay man said he was assaulted on the property is apparently no easy task.
Atlantic Station security personnel are still poring through “hours and hours” of video as part of its investigation into the alleged Aug. 4 attack on John Mark Parker, 50, as he was walking to the Fenuxe Fire Party in the former Fox Sports Grill.
“I know we are working closely with the Atlanta Police Department and working closely with them to go through hours and hours of footage,” said Elizabeth Hagin, spokesperson for Atlantic Station. “Everything we have so far has been turned over to APD.”
Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the APD, said Atlantic Station is cooperating.
“Atlantic Station is working with us to make sure we get any video footage that might exist of this reported assault,” he said.
The day after the attack, Hagin released this statement from Atlantic Station management:
“We are committed to serving the diverse Midtown neighborhood, including the LGBT community, a commitment that has been demonstrated by our partnership with events such as the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus Big Wig Party and the Fenuxe Magazine Best of Atlanta Fire Party and the diversity in our own management team.
“In the case of Saturday’s incident, witnesses have given both Atlantic Station Public Safety officers and APD officers conflicting information. We are cooperating in the investigation and will share information as it becomes available. Our own public safety officers handled the incident according to protocol and were respectful to all parties involved. The safety of all guests at Atlantic Station is our top priority.”
When asked what kind of conflicting information was given, Hagin said it dealt with location of the incident but did not say more.
Atlantic Station security officials are cooperating fully in the investigation, she added.
Parker told the APD on Aug. 4 that he was attacked while walking in Atlantic Station to the Fenuxe Fire Party being held in the former Fox Grill at 261 19th St.
In the Aug. 4 police report, Parker told police the attack was “no big deal” and at first denied medical treatment. After eventually agreeing to get medical help, he was taken by ambulance to Emory Midtown Hospital where he received five stitches to close up a laceration near his eye.
But the APD has not spoken to Parker since Aug. 4 and the investigation into what happened is now at a standstill until he comes forward for a critical follow up interview needed to find out more of what happened that night. Police also need to talk to him to determine if the crime should be investigated as a potential hate crime.
As of Aug. 14 the police had not spoken to Parker since its initial report. On Aug. 8, the APD said it was hoping to speak to Parker soon.
“We continue to reach out to the victim, but have not yet been successful in reaching him in order to complete an interview for investigative follow-up. Zone 5 investigators need to conduct that interview so we can get specific details on the incident,” said Campos. “Those details will help us determine if this crime meets the criteria to bring in our Homeland Security Unit, which investigates bias crimes.”
Attempts by the GA Voice to reach Parker have been unsuccessful.
Victim’s friend recounts alleged attack
Paul Swicord, who identified himself as a friend of Parker, wrote a detailed account of what he said happened the night of the Aug. 4 incident, stating an Atlantic Station security guard was attempting to throw him and a bloodied Parker out of the party rather than call police. Philip Rafshoon, who serves on the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board, witnessed the security guard trying to escort Swicord and Parker out and intervened to have the APD respond to the scene and take a report.
According to Swicord, the victim was on his way to attend the Fire Party. After parking on one of the lower levels, he came up the stairs to the main level and asked a person on the street for directions. This man responded by asking, “Are you a fag?” The victim answered, “Yes, I suppose I am” and received a punch in the face so hard it threw him to the ground and requiring medical attention.
The alleged victim then continued to the Fire Party, where he saw Swicord, who encouraged him to talk to an Atlantic Station security guard, who Swicord said was reluctant to help.
“After taking some information, the security guard said it would be 3-6 weeks before a report could be made available and to review the video footage,” Swicord said. “I tried to take a photo of the security guard so that I would have a record of who we had spoke with. He held his hand up and blocked my camera phone and blocked the photo. There was no compassion in this security officer for the victim. He was reluctant to take a report and document the incident.”
Swicord said they insisted that Atlanta police officers be called to take a report, and that Swicord also called APD LGBT Liaison Officer Brian Sharp, who spoke with an off-duty APD officer on the scene. After that, an on-duty APD officer and ambulance were called.
“I worry for other victims who may not have Officer Sharp on speed dial, needing assistance and would also be put off and not go through the process of filing a report when this happens,” Swicord said. “My issues are with the Atlantic Station private security guard, not APD.”
Swicord said he went to the emergency room with the victim, who required five stitches for a puncture wound under his right eye. The victim also suffered a strained wrist, he said.
The victim later remembered more details of the attack, which Swicord said must have happened between 9:26 p.m. on Aug. 4 (the time on the victim’s receipt for entering the parking deck) and 10:27 p.m., when Swicord called Sharp. The window may be narrowed to 10:15 p.m. to account for the time Swicord spent talking with the victim and Atlantic Station security before calling Sharp.
The victim, according to Swicord, described his attacker as “white male, short brown hair, with a muscular build,” who is between 5’9” and 6 feet tall. The attacker was accompanied by an attractive white woman with brown hair, Swicord said.
Top photo: Atlantic Station security personnel are working with the Atlanta Police Department to investigate an alleged anti-gay assault at Atlantic Station on Aug. 4. (Photo via Facebook)
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