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Alleged SAMOHI Hate Crime Investigations Wrap Up  

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By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

October 19, 2011 -- The Santa Monica Police Department's investigation into an alleged hate crime at Santa Monica High School was finished a month ago, and Los Angeles County Sheriffs say they'll wrap up their investigation of administrator misconduct in the same incident within the next two weeks.

The police investigation of the alleged racial harassment of an African-American teenager in the high school's wrestling room was sent to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office on September 20th, Public Information Officer,Sergeant Richard Lewis told The Lookout Tuesday. The DA is reviewing it now.

“It was a lengthy investigation,” so the DA's review is likely to take some time, said Lewis.

The DA's office remained tight-lipped about the investigation, telling The Lookout only that they are reviewing the case and cannot speculate as to when they'll be done.

Sergeant Ray Moeller with the County Sheriff's Department told The Lookout that his department has finished its investigation of possible misconduct by school officials, and the findings are currently under a routine in-house review.

He could not comment on the investigation's details, said that within the next two weeks, they will be released to the SMPD.

The SMPD investigation was held to determine whether or not the actions of members of the SAMOHI wrestling team, in which they allegedly harassed one of their African-American teammates, constituted a hate crime.

The young victim was said by witnesses to have been chained to a locker while his teammates shouted, “Slave for sale!” Some students also reported that they saw the team's practice dummy – a human-sized piece of wrestling equipment resembling the shape of a person – with a noose tied around its neck.

The incident didn't come to the attention of the alleged victim's mother until a month after the incident, which raised questions about how school administrators handled the event.

She and her son later filed a report with Santa Monica Police.

Some students also claimed that they were told by administrators to delete pictures they had taken with their cell phones of the dummy.

The SMPD referred allegations of misconduct by school officials to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which police said was standard procedure to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, since the SMPD works so closely with the schools.

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