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Sunday, April 24, 2011

'Everyone sat there and watched me get hurt': Victim of McDonald's beating speaks out as fast-food giant goes into damage control

By Paul Bentley

-Transgender woman, 22, tells of brutal attack
-'They were kicking me in the face'
-Restaurant owner says worker who filmed attack has been fired and other staff face discipline

-McDonald's says incident is 'disturbing and troubling'
-Police consider charging black girls with racist hate crime

The victim of a sustained attack in a Baltimore County McDonald's has spoken for the first time about the beating she received, and how nobody came to her aid.

Chrissy Lee Polis, a 22-year-old transgender woman, said she was afraid to go outside after the attack, and hinted that it might have been racially motivated - as both of her attackers were black.

She said: 'They just hurt me really bad, and I'm afraid to go outside now because of stuff like this.'

She said the violence kicked off after she had used the ladies restrooms in the McDonald's outlet, but denied reports that this was the reason why the violence erupted.

She said of her attackers: 'They just seemed like they wanted to pick a fight that night.'

She said she was approached by one of the girls, who accused her of 'looking at my man'.

When Miss Polis insisted that she was not even aware of the girl's partner, the physical abuse began with the girl spitting in her face.

She said: 'She started ripping my hair, throwing me on the floor, kicking me in my face.

'I got up and tried to hit the girl. I had her in a corner, to try to get her off me, and the other girl came up and started kicking me in my face, punching me in my nose, rippping my earring out of my earlobes.'

Miss Polis said there was no way to escape the attack, adding: ' Every time I tried to walk away they followed me.'

And, in what will cause major embarrassment to McDonald's and its 'family restaurant' image, Miss Polis said staff not only allowed the abuse to continue, one employee - identified as Vernon Hackett from images and comment he put online - filmed the incident.

The footage, which was put online, has attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Shocking: girl is brutally beaten until she has a seizure

Brutal: The girl suffers blow after blow while staff duck out of the way, right

Miss Polis said: 'Everybody in that McDonald's sat there and watched me get hurt. Nobody did nothing at all.

'And then they tried to tell [the girls] to leave because the cops were coming, so they could protect them and not me.

'I remember the guy working at McDonald's was taping me on his cell phone, and I told him to get it out of my f***ing face. And he sat there, and he must have taped me even further.'

The fast-food chain has issued a statement about the safety of its customers being paramount, and Rosedale franchise owner Mitchell McPherson yesterday announced that employee Vernon Hackett had been fired.

Mr McPherson said: 'My first and foremost concern is with the victim. I'm as shocked and disturbed by this assault as anyone would be. The behaviour displayed in the video is unfathomable and reprehensible.'

Mr McPherson added that action might also be taken against other restaurant workers

Seizure: The girl shakes on the floor uncontrollably after the attack

The shocking footage, where the 22-year-old Miss Polis is brutally beaten to the point of having a seizure, happened on April 18.

The LGBT group is now calling on police to investigate the attack as a hate crime.

During the brutal attack, which lasted for several minutes, Miss Polis was repeatedly kicked in the head and stamped on by two black girls in the fast food store.

Staff stood by and even laughed as the attackers grabbed the victim's hair and dragged her across the floor.

After shocking footage of the assault spread across the internet, with one site alone receiving 450,000 views by mid-afternoon, police said a 14-year-old girl had been charged as a juvenile, while charges were pending against an 18-year-old woman.

Scene: The McDonald's in Rosedale where the shocking attack took place

While the incident remains under investigation, local police told the Baltimore Sun they were looking into whether or not there was racist motivation.

State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said hate crime charges were being considered.

'If there is evidence that the crime was racially motivated, we will take a look at those charges and see if we meet those elements. We have the ability, if the facts are there, to upgrade the charges at a later date,' Shellenberger said.

Police said Miss Polis had suffered cuts to her mouth and face but was in 'fair' condition.

The horrifying video of the attack shows the black girls repeatedly punching, kicking and stamping on Miss Polis before briefly leaving the store.

She manages to get up briefly before they return, again punching and kicking her to the floor.

At one point they try to drag Miss Polis outside to the parking lot - and it takes the intervention of an old woman eating in the store to stop them.

After threatening to hit the older woman as well, the girls continue heavily pounding the victim, until, bleeding, she starts to have a seizure by the front door of the restaurant.

The attackers are warned by an employee to flee before authorities are finally called as onlookers realise that 'she needs help right now'.

Miss Polis said: I do want to find that... lady who helped me. I do want to thank her in person, face to face. If it wasn't for her I propably would have had the seizure, and they would have continued to hurt me.'

Hackett raised the ire of his employers after claiming credit for filming the video on his Facebook account, which he has since taken down.

At one point he can be heard laughing hysterically at the violence in front of him.

McDonald's have slammed the incident as 'unacceptable, disturbing and troubling'.

The video emerged on Friday on music website worldstarhiphop.com and has sparked fierce debate about the inaction of the McDonald's staff.

One visitor to the site last night commented: 'Where the heck were the employees? This is crazy and sad.'

Another added: 'Worst management ever.'

On another site, a viewer wrote: The female 'animals' need to be apprehended, and charged with attempted murder... the victim needs to sue McDonald's for everything they are worth.'

Others, however, argue that it would have been dangerous for the employees to have intervened.



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