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FBI to investigate possible hate crime

Sept. 16, 2009 at 8:26 PM

MORROW, Ga., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Police turned over the investigation of the alleged beating of a black woman by a white man in Morrow, Ga., to the FBI as a possible hate crime, officials said.

Morrow police arrested Troy Dale West of Poulan, Ga., after he allegedly attacked Tasha Hill at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, WSB-TV, Atlanta, reported. Witnesses said the victim, an Army Reservist, was entering the restaurant with her 7-year-old daughter when West was leaving. They said Hill asked West to be careful after the exit door nearly struck her daughter.

"The man slung open the door pretty hard and fast and I had to push my daughter out of the way. I turned to the man and I just said, 'Excuse me sir, you need to watch yourself, you almost hit my daughter in the face.' And from there it just went downhill," Hill told police.

West then allegedly threw her to the ground and began punching her and screaming racial slurs, the report said.

He was charged with battery, disorderly conduct and cruelty to a child in the first degree. The daughter watched the entire incident. Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department said authorities used video surveillance tapes and interviews with witnesses to bring charges against West, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

Police called in the FBI under the federal hate crime laws.

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