A transgender woman who pepper-sprayed four teenagers on a bus before they chased her down and beat her may also be charged with a crime after investigators reviewed video surveillance from the bus and determined she was the aggressor in an “unprovoked attack,” according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Originally, investigators with the sheriff’s office considered the woman to be the victim and the teens to be the aggressors, spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said in a statement on Friday.
The woman was chased down and beaten after she got off the King County Metro bus at South 180th Street and Andover Park West in Tukwila on Dec. 10. Some onlookers heard slurs directed at the woman’s gender identity and the four teens were booked into the youth detention center on investigation of assault and malicious harassment, the state’s hate-crime statute.
Now, the woman also faces an assault charge, Abbott said.
The woman had told investigators she had a threatening encounter with the teens at the Tukwila International Boulevard Station before they all got on the bus. She said the teens made comments to her that felt threatening and derogatory, according to the sheriff’s office.
However, surveillance video showed that the woman was the aggressor, Abbott said.
“A review of video from onboard the Metro coach shows the female to be the aggressor, using pepper spray, in an unprovoked attack on the four juveniles sitting at the back of the bus,” Abbott said. “The female initially claimed the group of juveniles threatened her, which led her to pepper-spraying the juveniles in an attempt to ‘neutralize’ a perceived threat,” Abbott said. “According to our detective, the bus footage disproved claims that the juveniles had threatened the female.”
Abbott said the video shows the woman moving to the back of the bus and deliberately spraying the teens in the face with pepper spray before she got off the bus. The teens followed her off the bus and assaulted her, causing minor injuries, Abbott said.
He said investigators are not recommending the juveniles be charged with malicious harassment because, while witnesses did hear pejorative comments about the woman’s gender identity, the motive for the assault was more likely retaliation for the pepper-spray assault and not her orientation.