Two Ohio men are accused of a federal hate crime in the beating of an African-American man who was attacked on the street with a broom.
The Detroit News, quoting The Associated Press, says Charles Butler, 33, and Robert Paschalis, 25, were indicted in the attack against Adrian Williams, who was left with damage to his eye socket.
According to The U.S. Attorney’s release on the indictment, Butler “later posted to Facebook that the attack was ‘in the name of the White Race.'” The release identifies the victim, who was black, as only “A.W.” and says the two defendants are white. On social media, Butler expressed racial hatred against President Barack Obama and made white supremacist statements, the complaint says.
According to the complaint, Butler is a self-identified white supremacist who has tattoos of a German War Eagle, a portrait of Adolph Hitler, a Swastika and a Confederate Flag.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. One of The Men Is Accused of Attacking The Victim With a Broom
Court documents allege that Butler struck the victim, “A.W.,” with a broom multiple times, The Associated Press says.
The two men did not know their victim, the government contends. They were charged with a federal hate crime “for beating an African-American stranger they saw on the street,” says the U.S. Department of Justice.
Butler and Paschalis were in a “black GMC pickup truck displaying a small Confederate flag sticker on the rear of the vehicle,” a truck registered to Butler, says the complaint.
The complaint says “all parties” confirmed that the men and victim didn’t know each other.
Williams, 47, told ABC 13, “It’s 2016 there’s not need for us to hate people. We need to learn to get along with one another.” He said he hopes the system throws the book at the two men and that he fears for his safety now.
The Toledo Blade says Butler goes by the name “Cowboy.”
2. The Men Used Racial Slurs & Butler Is a White Supremacist Who Posted About The Attack on Social Media, The Complaint Says
When he was serving a previous prison sentence in 2015, authorities seized white supremacist literature from Butler’s cell – handwritten notes regarding the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist group known throughout the Midwest, the complaint said. The group was active in the 1990s when it committed bank robberies, the complaint says.
According to the complaint, the literature included “recruiting materials for racial and religious hatred and causing violence throughout the State of Ohio in the name of white Christians (Aryans.)” The complaint says there were also instructions on training procedures, the paramilitary structure of the organization and weapons needed to carry out the mission of the Aryan Republican Army.
The complaint says Butler told prison officials he wrote the papers and wanted to restart the Aryan Republican Army, which was inactive.
On social media, he also advanced white supremacy ideology, said the complaint, filling his Facebook page with photographs and posts of Adolph Hitler, burning crosses, Nazi war eagles, Aryan Nationalist Alliance logos, Confederate flags, the Ku Klux Klan, references to “President Obama as a monkey” and various white pride symbols.
On Facebook, he posted a photo with his head in bandages and captioned it, according to the complaint, “(N word) running his mouth but like a (expletive) he grab a bat… I’m in the ER so his (sic) the (n word). His got broken ribs. I’m fine…just a lil pissed cuz the cops showed up while me and my brother was kicking his ass.”
The next day he wrote, the complaint said: “Hell as u can c I’m fine…More scores to add to my war book of the White Man… I’m a warrior and fight till the death. DEATH B4 DISHONOR. All in the name of the White Race. My battle wounds will heal but I’ve lived to fight another day.”
The complaint said he included “88,” which is a reference to the eighth letter in the alphabet to represent HH or “Hail Hitler.”
The victim said that Butler called him a racial slur (The “N” word) and Paschalis called him a gay slur during the attack.
3. The Attack Occurred on The Street As The Victim Unloaded a Truck, The Complaint Says
The victim was unloading his truck when he was attacked, the U.S. Attorney’s news release says. According to the complaint, the incident occurred on May 18, 2016, when “Butler and Paschalis drove past A.W. on the street while A.W. was unloading items from his truck. The two men circled back, got out of their own truck and began attacking A.W.”
The victim said that he was outside his residence when the men circled back and approached him and “started a confrontation,” the complaint said.
In self-defense, A.W. says he grabbed a baseball bat out of his truck and struck Butler a few times.
Both defendants are from Ohio. The Associated Press tried reaching their attorneys and received no comment.
The men gave audio and video recorded statements. Paschalis said Butler was driving him to his aunt’s house and then suddenly made a U Turn, said the complaint. Although he didn’t see it, Paschalis claimed Butler later told him that A.W. “rose his middle finger at him,” the complaint says.
Asked about the motive, Paschalis stated, according to the complaint, “If you couldn’t tell, he’s (Butler) extremely racist.”
Butler told local police when he was arrested that A.W. called him a “cracker” because of his Confederate flag and the “don’t tread on me” sticker on his truck, says the complaint.
“He did not say that A.W. rose his middle finger at him,” the complaint said. Instead, he said he stated, according to the complaint, “What did you say you (Expletive) (n word)?”
Butler claimed A.W. “hit him first and he was just defending himself” but the video surveillance did not support his sequence of events, the complaint said.
Butler said the fight was necessary because he was “in one of those moods,” said the complaint.
4. The Victim Suffered Eye Damage & Was Treated at a Local Hospital, The Report Says
According to The Associated Press, “the victim’s eye was damaged and an eye socket bone was fractured,” authorities said. The indictment was filed July 27.
The Justice Department says the victim “suffered an orbital fracture and damage to his right eye.”
Video surveillance from a business across the street corroborated A.W.’s recollection of the events, “including that Butler and Paschalis attacked A.W. without provocation,” the complaint said.
All went to the hospital. Paschalis had minor scrapes and bruises. Butler had a laceration on his head.
5. Two Off-Duty Police Officers & Two Bystanders Intervened to Help The Victim, The Complaint Says
“The beating stopped only when two off-duty Ohio State Police officers happened on the scene and pulled Butler and Paschalis away,” says the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The victim said that both men attacked him for over a minute “until two bystanders and two off-duty Ohio Public Safety Officers broke up the fight and apprehended Butler and Paschalis,” the complaint says.
One of the bystanders who intervened owns a mechanic shop in the area. He and a friend were present at the shop. The second man is active duty in the U.S. Navy and was home on leave, said the complaint.
The first witness, who was not identified in the complaint, saw the Navy man wave for him to come. When he reached the front of the store, he could see Butler and Paschalis “were attacking A.W,” the complaint contends. They helped him until off-duty officers arrived.
The Navy man told the mechanic that he heard Butler call A.W. the N word as they exited the vehicle, the complaint said.
Interviewed by telephone on an aircraft carrier, the Navy man said that he heard brakes squeal and saw a small black pickup truck come to an abrupt stop. “He saw two white men exit the truck, both yelling (the N word) at A.W. He saw Butler grab a broom from A.W.’s truck” and began assaulting A.W,” according to the complaint.
The Navy man said that A.W. tried to defend himself, the complaint said, including with a baseball bat. The Navy man tried to intervene but the assault continued until off-duty officers broke up the fight.
In an incident report, the two off-duty police officers, who were also not identified, said they observed an argument in which A.W. “appeared to be fending off (Butler and Paschalis) with an aluminum baseball bat. One of the suspects grabbed a broom from a pickup truck and the two suspects bean assaulting the man holding the baseball bat,” the complaint says.