FBI may step in to help BRPD with gas station investigation

The face of the victim from Sunday night's attack shows a broken nose, a broken eye socket and cuts to the face.
The face of the victim from Sunday night's attack shows a broken nose, a broken eye socket and cuts to the face.
Donald Dickerson
Donald Dickerson

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The FBI could step in to help Baton Rouge Police with an alleged fight at a gas station with three black suspects and a white family.

It's a story that's grabbed national attention with cries for justice on social networks.

The face of the 41-year-old victim from Sunday night's argument shows a broken nose, a broken eye socket and cuts to the face. It happened at the Chevron Gas Station on Scenic Highway off Plank Road.

The family does not want their names or identity released just yet, but he did tell WAFB's Kiran Chawla on the phone what happened Sunday around 9:30 p.m. The family of four was heading home, they needed gas so they stopped.

The man said me the credit card reader did not work at the pump, so he went up to the window to pay. That's when he said three black suspects, two men and a woman came up to him.

He claimed Donald Dickerson, 41, cut in front of him in line and said "You're in the wrong neighborhood."

The victim responded, "All I'm trying to do is get some gas." He said that's when Dickerson told him "he was not going to make it out."

The victim said "I just dismissed it. Truly this guy is joking. I just turned my head and he motioned like he was walking off, but he was leaning to the side to take a punch at me. I got hit two or three times on the way down. My wife, 41, was punched in the back of the head and knocked out cold and fell to the cement ground. (She) has staples in the back of her head."

As for his teenaged daughter, he said "she was punched in the face and stomach" and another young daughter was in the car watching everything and called 911.

He said Devin Bessye and Ashley Simmons punched his wife and Simmons hit his daughter. Both Bessye and Simmons were given misdemeanor summons for simple battery and released on sight. Dickerson was charged with second degree battery and booked.

"The charges that took place the other night were preliminary and based on the initial information that was available to the investigators on the scene and to some extent at the hospital. We are now doing a follow-up investigation to re-interview the victims," said BRPD's Lt. Kelly.

In response, the victim told Chawla, "It is incorrect. Mistakes happen, and it needs to be reversed."

Under former Police Chief Dewayne White, officers were ordered to book all misdemeanor offenders. When interim Police Chief Carl Dabadie took over, that policy was relaxed. Now, changes have been made.

"Chief Dabadie wanted to give the officers more discretion to make decisions in the field with respect to misdemeanor cases and whether someone should be booked or issued a summons, and it was never his intention however that crimes of violence, misdemeanors of violence be summoned. It was his intention that those individuals should be booked and it is still his intention that they should be booked. What caused that to happen with this incident where people were released on summons is still part of an ongoing investigation but moving forward, crimes of violence will be booked," said Lt. Kelly.

Now BRPD is looking into help from the FBI because their investigation so far shows the incident does not meet the hate crime statute, but federal laws for the hate crime could be different.

As for surveillance video, the store's owner tells 9News the camera that would have picked up everything was broken.

In the meantime, police are asking for the public to bear with them.

"All we would ask is people be patient and that people don't rush to judgement. We have to deal with facts, not emotions with these sort of investigations," said Lt. Kelly.

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