Lafayette

Jan 15, 2013 12:25 AM by Steven Albritton

Simple Battery Charge Could Be Upgraded To A Hate Crime

What was supposed to be a night at the movies turned into a drama all its own for Walt Jamison and his partner.

"He hit me in the face with enough force to knock my glasses to the ground level. We were at least six rows up," he said.

Police say the man in the row behind the victims was Joseph Menard. He was at the movie with his wife and child. According to his arrest affidavit, Menard was involved in a verbal altercation with other movie-goers over their sexual orientation. It turned physical when Menard allegedly hit Jamison's partner across the back of his head, before hitting him. Jamison says gay slurs were also directed at them.

"The gentlemen assumed based on our appearance, or our demeanor, that we're gay." Jamison said.

Menard is charged with two counts of simple battery. Lafayette Police say the initial investigation did not require a hate crime charge.

"With what information we have we felt that those were the appropriate charges that were brought against this subject for that particular case," Corporal Paul Mouton of the Lafayette Police said.

The Hate Crime statute says it is unlawful to commit an offense because of actual or perceived sexual orientation, and one of those offenses is battery. We reached out to District Attorney Mike Harson on where this "simple battery" charge would fall.

"I would say yes since Revised Statute107.2 specifically mentions battery. Which would include simple battery," Harson said.

"Because he hated either who we are, or what we are, or what we do, or how we do it; he felt the need to physically attack us. My ultimate goal is to make sure that his actions get the consequences to the fullest extent of the law," Jamison said.

Menard was released from jail, but if and when these charges do get upgraded the penalties are more serious.

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