Calvin Lawrence, 48, said Joseph Cowart, 43, was punched, kicked while being attacked by up to a dozen teenagers. The attack, which began near Fort Totten and continued four stops to the Shaw-Howard University station, started after Cowart attempted to intervene in the attempted robbery of a 14-year-old boy, Metro said.
“I constantly see that girl coming toward me,” Cowart said over the phone Thursday.
Lawrence told the Post last month that Cowart has been afraid to ride Metro since the incident. Lawrence said an attacker mocked Cowart’s disability, mimicking his hand movement, which was reduced after a stroke suffered in 2004. When Cowart began to speak, the attackers shifted their taunting to his sexual orientation.
“As the train traveled between Fort Totten and Shaw-Howard stations, the group surrounded and began to harass a 14-year-old male passenger,” Metro said in a news release. “Police allege that the juvenile respondent is the person responsible for first mocking, then violently kicking and punching an adult male victim who attempted to intervene on behalf of the 14 year old.”
Metro Transit Police detectives identified the suspect with the help of digital surveillance, in addition to victim and witness interviews, Metro said. The attack is one of multiple brutal assaults that have occurred within the system in the past few months. In December, a 41-year-old approached by at least two youths in a possible robbery attempt suffered a concussion and a broken jaw and collarbone, his wife said.
Cowart and Lawrence said Thursday the girl’s arrest is a start but they wished Metro had gone further and charged her with a hate crime. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said last month that prosecutors can add a bias motivation when the case is papered if there is evidence to support it.
“I hope they do,” Lawrence said Thursday.
Cowart described how the teenagers stood over him, mocking his disability and calling him anti-gay slurs: “the f*****, the handicap movement, mocking me over and over again.”
“The more egregious part was the physical act of them mocking him about his disability,” Lawrence, his partner said. “Both are egregious to me. It needs to be called a hate crime because I heard those words myself.”
Cowart said he hopes the other attackers are held accountable, but he wasn’t counting on the alleged attacker to rat her friends out. Lawrence said his partner remains on the same grueling physical therapy schedule as in the wake of the attack. Following the attack, a GoFundMe page was set up to aid with the couple’s medical expenses.
The couple said news of the arrest Thursday offered a sense of relief — albeit momentary.
“What it means to us at least something is happening,” Lawrence said.