A black teenager allegedly stabbed an AutoZone employee after watching videos of police-involved incidents and had “the need to find a white male to kill,” said prosecutors.
Columbus Police Sgt. R.S. Mills, in court testimony, said Hatchett, who is black, was asked by officers about why he carried out the attack, saying he “felt the need to find a white male to kill” after watching police brutality videos.
The victim was initially reported to be in critical condition, but he is expected to recover, officials told WTVM.
Police said Hatchett was smiling and admitted to the stabbing when they arrested him. Officials told WLTZ that he was arrested six months ago for two felonies, including aggravated assault. A judge in the case ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation.
District Attorney-elect Mark Jones said that if the AutoZone stabbing was racially motivated, then it would be a hate crime. He noted that it could fall under Georgia’s hate crime law that was passed in June 2020.
“On the Auto Zone stabbing case, my thoughts are that if the allegations are true, then defendant should be charged with aggravated battery with a hate crime sentencing enhancement if convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. The reports of the Auto Zone incident are deeply concerning to me because I am committed to reducing violence in our great city. However, each case warrants a full and promptly investigation of the incident and we currently don’t know the entire story,” he said, reported WIS-TV.
Hatchett is also accused of beating a man to death while he was being held at the Muscogee County Jail early Sept. 5. Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins said Hatchett is the suspect in the beating death of 39-year-old Eddie Nelson Jr., who was recently jailed for a parole violation and failing to register as a sex offender.
Nelson’s family and attorney said jailers were negligent in housing him with Hatchett.
“If he was a rapist, they wouldn’t have put him in a cell with a woman. If he had bombed a synagogue they wouldn’t have put him in a cell with a Jewish person. If he had been that white kid up in Wisconsin that shot those demonstrators they would not have put him in a cell with demonstrators,” attorney Craig Jones told WLTZ, referencing the Kyle Rittenhouse case. “I mean this is either sheer stupidity or meanness that’s the only way I can explain it.”
He added that if Hatchett “had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, they would not have put him in a cell with a Black person.”