USM Campus Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/03/02

USM Campus Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime

The attorney for four men allegedly attacked at a University of Southern Mississippi football game says the injuries one of the men received may be more serious than first believed.

Eric Davis, 28, two of his brothers and a friend told campus police they were attacked by 20 to 30 people on the Hattiesburg campus Saturday at halftime of USM's season-opener against Jackson State.

Jackson attorney Ramel Cotton said the attack appears to have been racially motivated. The victims were black. School officials would not call the beatings racially motivated.

Davis was treated and released Saturday night at Forrest General Hospital, but Jackson attorney Ramel Cotton said Davis may have received more than just bumps and bruises.

"(Davis) was rushed to the hospital again the next day,'' Cotton said. Joe Paul, vice president for Student Affairs at USM, said Tuesday during a news conference that a probe by campus police is underway.

Paul said the altercation took place around 9 p.m.

"The university police has been in touch with the FBI and we have been assured that assistance is available if we should need it and we will continue to brief the FBI,'' Paul said. "An important part of the investigation is to have the opportunity to meet with and more thoroughly interview these four visitors on the campus that night.''

Paul said three of the alleged victims refused treatment, but Cotton said they were also injured.

"Visibly you can see scrapes and bruises on all of them,'' Cotton said. "We're still pursuing medical treatment for them to make sure that there are no injuries that are not readily visible to the eye."

"One of them also had an injury to his ear that was bandaged and treated by the EMTs on the scene, but at this point it is not possible to give a definitive answer as to the totality of their injuries.''

Darren Davis, one the brothers who was allegedly attacked, confirmed Tuesday that he was the one that suffered the ear injury. He also said he received a slight concussion. Darren Davis said his brother, Eric, is having a tougher time recovering from his injuries.

"He's not doing better. He is in and out. He is going to a specialist in about a week,'' Darren Davis said.

Eric Davis' exact injuries were not revealed. Cotton said his office is working with authorities to set up additional interviews with the four men.

Cotton said they may have been attacked by members of a fraternity. Cotton said the four men were approached by a mob as they sat in their car, which was stuck in traffic. He said several members of the group were shouting racial slurs.

Cotton said the four men, "were then attacked physically, first while they were in the vehicle, and then they were dragged from the vehicle and the mob then continued to attack them.''

Bob Hopkins, chief of USM's campus police, said witnesses are being interviewed. He said some of the alleged attackers were identified the night of the incident, but authorities felt it was too early to make any arrests.

"What we are doing is trying to get back up with the reported victims and re-interview them and get the facts from them in more details,'' Hopkins said. "As evidence is compiled, a determination will be made as to action taken both by the university and by law enforcement officials.''

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