The white Cornell University student who was accused of assaulting a Black student in a racially charged incident in September has been was charged with a hate crime on Monday.
The Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office added the charge against 19-year-old John Greenwood in addition to charges of aggravated harassment and criminal mischief, reported the Associated Press.
Greenwood is also facing charges issued by the Ithaca police department.
Matthew Van Houten, the Tompkins County district attorney, accused Greenwood of targeting a Black student on campus and hurling racial slurs. Greenwood was first charged with assault for a physical attack against Solomon Shewit, who is Black. However, an investigation determined the victim’s injuries represented an attempted assault.
“After conducting a careful and thorough review of the investigation conducted by the Ithaca Police Department, it is my belief that the charges filed are supported by the evidence and that there is a legal basis for the classification of the attempted assault charge as a hate crime under the Penal Law,” Van Houten told The Cornell Daily Sun.
Shewit told The Daily Sun that Greenwood and several other white men repeatedly punched him and called him a “n****r.”
“They said ‘F**k you, n****r,’ over and over as they were leaving,” Shewit told The Sun from the hospital on Sept. 15. “I was pretty bloodied up.”
Greenwood’s lawyer, Ray Schlather, said his client “was not involved in any physical altercation.”
“Unfortunately, Mr. Shewit has misled the police, the prosecutor, and this community,” Schlather told The Sun on Monday. “The objective physical evidence that has been discovered since the initial charges were filed contradicts his claims as to what happened after the verbal exchange.”
Greenwood previously apologized for using “language that was completely unacceptable and inappropriate,” and Schlather has said his client did not commit a crime.
In a video, which was posted to YouTube and reviewed by police, someone who appears to be Greenwood is calling another student, who has not been identified, a “sand-n****r” and said “Come fight us, n****r.”
(Photo: Ithaca Police Department)
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