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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

Friday, October 2, 2020

Federal Officials Close Investigation Into Alleged Hate Crime in Madison

MADISON, WIS. – The United States Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that a federal investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges for an alleged hate crime reported to have occurred on June 24, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin.  A woman reported that on June 24, 2020, she was attacked while stopped at a stoplight by four men who sprayed her with a flammable liquid, threw a lit object to ignite the fluid, and thereby inflicted burns to her face and neck.  Federal and local agents met with the complainant and her representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision to close the federal inquiry.

A team of experienced federal prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division worked with FBI and state and local law enforcement agents to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the events of June 24, 2020.  The federal investigation sought to determine whether the evidence was sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal civil rights statutes, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 249.  Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of that person’s actual or perceived race. 

After a thorough investigation into the events of June 24, 2020, including extensive interviews, exhaustive review of traffic and surveillance video, and expert review of digital and forensic evidence, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove that a violation of any federal criminal statute occurred.  Further, after reviewing all available evidence, authorities could not establish that the attack, as alleged by the complainant, had occurred.  Accordingly, the federal investigation into this incident has been closed based on the lack of evidence. 

The Justice Department is committed to investigations of allegations of bias-motivated violence and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that allegations of civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.  The Department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

Hate Crimes
Updated October 2, 2020