A 30-year-old man has been charged with two counts of a hate crime after he was accused of attacking two women of color in Seattle earlier this month, according to King County prosecutors.
Kenneth K. Polk-Jones was arrested Monday following the second alleged attack and is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for June 30 at the King County Courthouse.
The first alleged attack occurred on June 6, a few blocks away from Judkins Park and Playfield in the Central District, according to probable cause documents. A woman was waiting for a bus on Rainier Avenue South when a man — whom she later identified as Polk-Jones — walked by, yelling and punched her in the face.
The woman said she speaks Spanish and identifies as Latina/Hispanic. She later sought medical attention for “significant facial swelling” after the attack, police said.
After the attack, she took a photo of the man, whom officers later found and arrested several blocks away on investigation of fourth-degree assault, police said.
According to jail records, he posted $1,000 bail and was granted a conditional release on June 7.
Less than a week later, another woman was walking along South Jackson Street near the Chinatown International District and talking on the phone in Cambodian when a man — later identified as Polk-Jones — approached her and punched her in the face, police said.
When he punched her again in the head, he knocked her to the ground and continued to kick her in the back, police said. He eventually stopped kicking her and walked away after the woman yelled at him to stop.
A witness who saw the attack unfold later identified the man as Polk-Jones, who was again taken into custody — this time on investigation of a hate-crime offense.
“Both victims in this case are women of small build, indicate they are nonwhite, and may be immigrants to this country,” prosecutors said in charging documents filed Wednesday. “The pattern of targeting victims with similar characteristics indicates bias.”
An attorney for Polk-Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Polk-Jones has a history of mental-health issues and in December 2019 underwent a forensic mental-health evaluation when he was charged with second-degree burglary, according to court records.
At the time, the state forensic evaluator diagnosed Polk-Jones with “unspecified schizophrenia and other psychotic disorder,” and said he lacked the capacity to understand the proceedings against him or assist his counsel in his defense.
The burglary charge was later dismissed in February 2020.
The June case is the prosecuting attorney’s office’s 16th hate crime case this year, prosecutors said. Of those, six involve Asian American and Pacific Islander victims and five involve Black victims, prosecutors said. In addition, two attacks targeted gay men and one targeted a transgender person.
In 12 of the cases, defendants have previously documented mental-health concerns, a history of substance abuse or both, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.