A man accused of beating a Latino father and son with a metal bar in Utah while shouting “I hate Mexicans” will not be charged with a hate crime because of a legal loophole in the state law.
Alan Dale Covington, 50, faces four counts of aggravated assault as well as three counts of weapon and drug possession, according to Salt Lake City jail records. However, the 50-year-old was not charged with a hate crime because only a misdemeanour assault can be classified as a hate crime in the state of Utah, with no one having been convicted of such offence for the 20 years the statue has been in place.
Covington allegedly approached the Mexican family outside their tyre shop in Salt Lake City last week, threatening them and reportedly shouting: “I am going to kill someone”, “I hate Mexicans”, and "I’m here to kill a Mexican”, before beating the father and son with a 5-foot metal pole. He also allegedly asked them if they were working for the "Mexican Mafia".
Jose Lopez, 52, who immigrated from Mexico and has owned the tyre business for four years, had to receive eight stitches for an arm injury and had his back severely bruised, while his son Luis Lopez, 18, was brought to hospital in a serious condition after falling unconscious taking a blow to the head.
He later had to have a “three hour surgery to place a titanium plate from the right side of his face to his nose to be able to attach the bones and keep his eyeball in place,” according to a GoFundMe page set up by their family. Although the fundraising goal was to raise $20,000 for medical expenses, over $49,000 has already been donated.
“They’re very shaken up,” Lopez's daughter Veronica Lopez told the Salt Lake Tribune.
My family feels targeted.
She also reportedly said that they were disappointed the case won’t be considered a hate crime:
It makes my blood boil. What do they want next? Do they want him to kill someone to see that he’s dangerous?
Convington has a history of criminal activity, having previously spent time in prison for assault and domestic violence. Salt Lake City police also indicated that the man was under the influence of drugs during the attack and may also have “some mental health issues”.
Salt Lake City police detective Greg Wilking also told the Tribune:
He wasn’t really based in reality. We don’t want to ignore a hate crime if it’s a hate crime, but we don’t want to make it a hate crime if there’s not that aspect of it.
The district attorney in charge of the case, Sam Gill told BuzzFeed News:
I as a state prosecutor cannot give them a measure of justice proportionate to the injury that they’re feeling and that truly is an injustice