- According to a defense filing, the suspect in the Club Q shooting identifies as non-binary.
- But the gender identity of the shooting suspect won’t deter prosecutors from pursuing hate crime charges.
- Experts said members of marginalized groups may commit hate crimes against that same group.
identifying as non-binary Will not defer possible hate crime charges for shooting suspect Five people accused of killing and injuring 17 others at Colorado gay club,
Authorities say a shooter opened fire for about six minutes at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday Club patrons helped the shooter to the ground And the police came. Suspect in shooting attacks LGBTQ establishment on eve of International Transgender Day of Remembrance the likelihood that the incident was a targeted attack against the queer community, officials said.
A 22-year-old youth has been arrested and is being held on preliminary murder and hate-crime charges, according to officials. visible injured suspect He appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday, where prosecutors said they would present formal charges in early December.
A defense attorney for the suspect said in a preliminary court filing that the accused shooter has identified as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns — a somewhat surprising development considering the suspect Told the history of anti-LGBT comments.
Legal experts pointed out that identifying as non-binary would not protect her from the possibility of being formally charged with hate crimes other than murder charges.
“It’s not relevant,” Neema Rahmani, president West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor, spoke about the suspect’s gender identity. “Obviously the defense would like to bring it in, but that’s not the defense.”
Neither the suspect nor his defense have said definitively whether they plan to use the accused shooter’s gender identity as part of their defense, but the suspect’s pronouns and gender identity were discussed in Tuesday’s court filing. The inclusion was a “very strategic move” on their part. The defense, Rahmani said, is already working to build empathy and rule out the possibility of additional charges.
Brian Levine, professor of criminal justice at California State University, San Bernardino, said, “It’s certainly something the defense will try to use, but based on other evidence it doesn’t in itself deter hate crime charges.” Is.” ,
Legal experts said members of marginalized groups are legally capable of committing hate crimes against members of their own marginalized group.
Levin said, “the notion that because someone may belong to a group does not mean that some … membership of that group or controversy revolving around the issue will negate hate crime charges.”
Hate crimes just got easier to prosecute in Colorado
Prosecutors pursuing hate crime charges in Colorado must first prove that a suspect’s intent was motivated solely by hate — forcing prosecutors to rely on circumstantial evidence, Rahmani said, adding that “someone’s head a difficult task given the impossible nature of “getting inside”.
Rahmani said that proving that a suspect committed a crime solely motivated by hate is so challenging that prosecutors often choose not to pursue additional charges even in cases where prejudice is a likely motivator.
But in 2021, Colorado lawmakers rewrote the state’s hate crime laws In an effort to make it easier to prosecute bias-based crimes. Now, prosecutors only have to prove that hatred or prejudice was a “partial” motivation in the crime, opening the door for more charges and convictions.
“This is obviously important because there can be different reasons why someone would want to kill someone else,” Rahmani said.
He said politics can also play a role in a prosecutor’s choice of whether to charge a suspect with hate crimes.
Rahmani said, “If you’re a prosecutor, you really want to enforce these laws when you can. They send a message.” “Your job is to protect minority groups like this.”