Suspect in Atlanta Trans Beating Says He was Provoked
One of the men suspected in the beating of two transgender women on a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) train in Atlanta last month said this week he and his friends were provoked by the women, Atlanta's ABC-affiliate station WSB-TV reports.
MARTA police charged Luther Thomas, who goes by Lamar, and his friend Frederick L. Missick, 35, with disorderly conduct and suspended the men from transit service.
Thomas, 34, spoke with the station about the incident, which was caught on camera, uploaded to www.flyvidz.com and has since gone viral -- as of this writing, the clip has 2.94 million views. Thomas acknowledges the incident escalated after he lost his temper but claims he and his friends were provoked to fight.
Thomas is seen kicking and punching the two transgender women in the video but he says what isn't shown is how the fight started.
"See that he keeps getting closer and closer," Thomas told WSB-TV as he pointed out the clip. "I'm not saying nothing."
He adds: "These guys they came on to me. Even the one that looked exactly like a female said she liked guys with dreads."
Thomas claims the women hit on him and he denied their advances and that's what sparked the fight. He also said he felt threatened.
"He's calling me the 'n word' and then [smacking his hands saying] y'all better get him," Thomas said. "[They were] getting closer and closer."
During the fight, Tyra Woods was stripped of her clothes.
"The camera didn't show that, but he pulled off his skirt and that's when he was totally naked," Thomas told WSB-TV. "We did not strip him."
Woods and Janell Crosby told the station last week that Thomas and another suspect followed and taunted them and started the altercation.
Thomas, however, disagrees.
"I hate that it did happen," he said. "I hate that I lost my temper. If I could do it all over again I probably would have moved to another car or got off the train or something."
A MARTA spokesperson told the station the incident is still open and there is an ongoing investigation. Witnesses are still being sought out but MARTA officials want to reach out to Atlanta's LGBT community and make sure they feel safe on the transportation system.
"I don't hate gay people at all. That's not in my character at all," Thomas said. "But when you are a gay guy and you come on to a straight guy and I tell you I don't go that way then just let it be."
The men were arrested on May 31 by the MARTA Police Department. More serious charges against the suspect are possible.
"MARTA does not condone and will not tolerate this type of behavior," said Keith T. Parker, MARTA's GM/CEO. "I can assure you that we're taking this matter very seriously."
MARTA police arrested Thomas in 2005 after he admitted to being a DJ who illegally sold mix tapes on the train.
Watch the graphic / NSFW video here.