Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday detectives are reviewing video evidence from a downtown bar in hopes of identifying a couple who allegedly got into a confrontation with a group of transgender women, prompting a hate-crime investigation.
“We received a great deal of assistance from the LGBTQ community, and we’re grateful for that,” Moore said during a Tuesday morning Police Commission meeting. “We’ve interviewed a number of individuals from the business and the individuals involved. We are seeking the suspects and we have video evidence.”
The transgender women, who are coworkers, have said they went to Las Perlas after a DTLA Proud Festival Friday night, and after they sat down, a straight couple accosted them.
Khloe Rios told the Los Angeles Times the group was eating when the couple approached them and said, “You guys are all men. You guys don’t belong here.” She said the man in the couple then got aggressive, slapping one of her coworkers and pushing her.
Security guards at Las Perlas then intervened, asking the couple to leave the restaurant and asking the transgender women to do the same. Cellphone video recorded by Rios does not show the alleged attack, but the footage captures three people being forcefully removed from the bar.
In the video, a security guard grabs one of the women, Jennifer Bianchi, who repeatedly tells the man, “Don’t touch me like that.” She pushes back, arguing that she needs to get her shoe. The guard then shoves her again, wraps his arms around her and moves Bianchi toward the door. Moments later, another bar employee grabs a transgender woman who was sitting down, wraps his arm around her chest and says, “We’re done.”
The woman looks at the camera and says, “What happened?” before being dragged out of the bar, The Times reported.
Police said the group had filed a hate crime report and that the department was investigating the incident. Moore said their allegations are being taken “very seriously” by the LAPD.
“Such acts of hate are intolerable and they warrant what occurred that day, which was immediate response by our detective,” Moore said. “At this point, I believe our most critical aspect is identifying the suspects involved.”
Pouring With Heart, the company that owns Las Perlas, sent a statement to The Times saying it plans to hire a security company that has received sensitivity training. The company said that it also has retained outside counsel to “review the tapes and actions from Friday night to make more specific analysis of exactly what happened and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Cedd Moses, the founder of Pouring With Heart, previously had said the security guards had acted appropriately and “in accordance with company policy,” The Times reported.
Bianchi claimed to The Times that bar security guards handled them much more roughly than the straight couple.
“I was a paying customer like everybody else in there, and the couple didn’t get escorted out the way we did,” Bianchi told the paper.
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