Syracuse Police: Ackerman incident not racially motivated

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2019 at 7:28 pm by Lilly Umana

By Ricky Sayer – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV)

The Syracuse Police Department says that the off-campus assault of Syracuse University students on Ackerman Avenue was not racially motivated after speaking with witnesses and victims involved.

A student-released statement from the weekend said that the attack involved racial slurs and that the investigation was handled poorly by the Department of Public Safety and the SPD.

On Tuesday, Syracuse Student Association President Ghufran Salih told CitrusTV that incidents like Saturday’s show why there needs to be communication between DPS and students. “There wasn’t communication between the student body and DPS,” Salih said, “that’s why there was a lot of misunderstanding about whose jurisdiction this is or how DPS can like put a ‘term’ on this incident. DPS couldn’t said that it was a hate crime because it’s SPD’s investigation.”

In a public safety update emailed to all students after the assault, the Syracuse DPS said that early Saturday morning, an unknown female used a silver handgun to strike three Syracuse University students. The message said that the students sustained minor injuries, but declined medical treatment.

A statement later emerged on social media that claimed to be from a group of students who know more details of the assault. It’s unclear who wrote the statement.

The statement claims that a group of three Caucasian males and one Caucasian woman approached a house where a birthday party had taken place and proceeded to attack three students of color. The statement goes on to say that one of the attackers used a racial epithet before striking a male student in the face. The statement claims that the female assailant “took a silver pistol and proceeded to repeatedly strike the students in the head as they were being attacked by her male accomplice.” According to the statement, the woman wielding the gun threatened to use it to shoot students.

“Our peers suffered from injuries such as contusions, bruises, concussion, etc,” the statement says. The statement adds that they were “disheartened” by how DPS and SPD handled the situation.

Monday afternoon, DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado released a statement that said the Syracuse police department is leading the investigation because the incident took place off-campus. Maldonado provided this explanation as to how DPS handles off-campus incidents:

“When serious crimes occur on or nearby campus, we use public safety notices as a tool for communicating to our campus community, particularly if there is an active crime scene. The information in the public safety notice includes a brief and the most current description of the crime and the perpetrator as described by the victim or witnesses. Syracuse University does not identify a perpetrator’s race in these alerts in deference to previously expressed community concerns about racial profiling.”

DPS first released a public safety notice at 1:14 a.m. Saturday morning notifying students that they were investigating a report of an assault that had taken place at 12:40 a.m. on the 800 block of Ackerman Ave. At 2:51 a.m they released a follow up statement giving the student body further details.

DPS’s public safety update made no mention of the men that the student’s later statement claimed were with the woman. DPS said in a statement released Monday that the information they released “was, at the time, the most current account of the events.”

There are currently no DPS signs in the 800 Ackerman block. The Syracuse Police Department does operate cameras in the area. Sgt. Matt Malinowski says that the Police Department cannot release information about whether the cameras saw anything due to an ongoing investigation.

Groups across campus have reposted the statement and responded with statements of their own. Some of which are posted below.

CitrusTV will keep you updated on this story as it develops.