Prosecutors file assault, robbery charges in attack on transgender women in Hollywood
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed assault and robbery charges Tuesday against two of the men linked to a brutal attack on a group of transgender women in Hollywood last month that was caught on video and labeled a hate crime, authorities said.
Carlton Callaway, 29, and Davion Williams, 22, will face charges including robbery and assault in connection with the Aug. 17 attack in the 6500 block of Hollywood Boulevard, according to a news release issued by the L.A. County district attorney’s office.
Eden the Doll, a transgender Instagram influencer with a massive online following, was on the Walk of Fame with Jaslene Whiterose and Joslyn Flawless around 2 a.m. when a man began to threaten them, according to a widely viewed video of the incident that was published to social media. In the video, a man can be seen threatening Flawless with a crowbar as he robbed her before striking Whiterose over the head. Onlookers can be heard heckling and taunting the women throughout the ordeal.
Callaway, a Compton resident, was charged with six criminal counts including robbery, assault and grand theft. Williams, also of Compton, was charged with assault and grand theft. Each man was charged under a hate crime enhancement after police alleged they made derogatory comments about the victims’ gender identities during the alleged attack.
Callaway was arrested in mid-August by police in Bakersfield, but was released a few days later when prosecutors referred the case back for further investigation. Callaway’s release from jail drew outrage among the LGBTQ community after Eden the Doll posted a recording of her conversation with an LAPD detective about the case to her 462,000 Instagram followers.
In the call, the detective was highly critical of prosecutors’ handling of the case. The investigation is now being handled by LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division.
Callaway and Williams were not in custody as of Tuesday afternoon, though officials were trying to arrange their surrender through their attorneys, according to Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who heads Robbery-Homicide Division. A court date has not been scheduled.
Michael Curls, who is representing Callaway, questioned the validity of the hate-crime allegation. Curls pointed to footage of the attack and said the derogatory remarks about the victims’ gender were being made by the crowd of onlookers instead.
“I’m disappointed that the district attorney went forward with a hate crime allegation,” he said. “It seems to me that for the two weeks that they looked [at this case], that they believed there was some question this evolved to a hate crime given the evidence I know they had in their position when the decision was made.”
Callaway and Williams did not know each other, Curls said. It was not clear if Williams had retained an attorney. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
The district attorney’s office rejected charges against a third suspect arrested in the case, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the situation.
Los Angeles police arrested Willie Walker, a 42-year-old homeless man, two days after the assault and accused him of trying to extort the women. The official, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Walker’s actions failed to meet the threshold of a crime, as he did not try to use “force or fear” against the women, but offered only to recover their property in exchange for money.
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