Two white New Orleans police officers have been fired and are facing a civil rights investigation after they were accused of beating a Hispanic man who they allegedly called a "fake American."
John Galmon, 26, and Spencer Sutton, 24, had not yet completed their probationary period when they allegedly beat up Jorge Gomez, 39, outside a New Orleans bar early Tuesday after launching a racist tirade against Gomez, who says he is a U.S. military veteran.
Authorities said the rookie officers were off-duty when they attacked Jorge Gomez outside a bar early Tuesday. Gomez's face was badly bruised and his forehead required stitches.
Gomez told reporters the two men also told him he "was a fake American," belligerently asking him about his choice of military camouflage-style clothing and questioning him over his nationality.
"And that I wasn't in the National Guard either. I told him I served a tour of duty in Iraq," he said, recalling they also told him: "You're going to die."
"I did not do anything to defend myself," he said.
Galmon and Sutton have been charged with battery after the incident. The men have pled not guilty.
Sutton's attorney Jake Lemmon said his client and Galman, "maintain their innocence."
But the incident is under further investigation by the Greater New Orleans Civil Rights Task Force in conjunction with the FBI, who are jointly seeking to determine whether "this case meets the elements of a potential civil rights violation," the New Orleans Police Department told Anadolu Agency in an emailed statement.
Hate crimes against minorities have skyrocketed since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a black advocacy group, said in June that it believes there is a direct correlation between the spike and Trump's election.
"From campaign to election, this president has spewed the language of division and hate, and it has manifested in not only racist policies but in racist acts against people of color and other groups," said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
The group cited a May study from California State University, Santa Barbara, that found reported hate crimes in the U.S.'s 10 largest cities rose to their highest levels in a decade, jumping over 12 percent in 2017.