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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 17, 2022

Second Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime for Racially-Motivated Attack on a Black Man Using Axe Handle

Ocala, FL – Roy Lashley, 55, pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for attacking a Black man because of his actual and perceived race.

According to the plea agreement, on Nov. 17, 2021, Lashley traveled to the Family Dollar in Citrus Springs, Florida, where the victim, a Black man, was shopping inside. Lashley repeatedly used racial slurs inside the store in reference to the victim and then followed the victim into the parking lot. There, Lashley retrieved an axe handle from the bed of his truck and struck the victim multiple times with it. Lashley directed racial slurs towards the victim before, during and after the attack. The victim sustained painful injuries to his face and legs, including a laceration to the inside of his mouth. 

“Racially motivated and hate-fueled attacks on Black people have no place in this country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department’s Civil Rights Division. “As we mark 13 years since passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, we renew our commitment to using all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to prosecute unlawful acts of hate.”

“The defendant in this case deliberately and brutally attacked the victim because of his race,” said U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “There is no place in our country for this type of abhorrent behavior, and we will prosecute those who commit these heinous crimes to the fullest extent of the law.

“Civil rights investigations are at the heart of what we do at the FBI,” Special Agent in Charge Sherri E. Onks for the FBI Jacksonville Field Division. “Hate crimes are not only an attack on the victim; they are meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community. Because of their wide-ranging impact, investigating hate crimes is among the FBI's highest priorities, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to seek justice for victims and their communities.”

A sentencing hearing has not yet been set. Lashley faces a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment, three years of mandatory supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Lashley was charged in an indictment that was unsealed on June 17. The indictment charged Lashley and co-defendant Robert Dewayne Lashley, each aiding and abetting one another, with willfully causing bodily injury to the victim because of the victim’s actual and perceived race. Robert Dewayne Lashley pleaded guilty on Oct. 4.

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Handberg and Special Agent in Charge Onks made the announcement.

The FBI and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office investigated the matter. Trial Attorneys Maura White and Matthew Tannenbaum of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hamilton for the Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case. 

For more information and resources about the department’s work to combat hate crimes, visit www.justice.gov/hatecrimes.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Hate Crimes
Component(s): 
Updated October 18, 2022