Brandon Ray Davis faces charges for attack on gay couple in Key West

RICHLANDS, N.C.—Brandon Ray Davis, 30, was arrested on March 1 by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department with an extraditable warrant on hate crime charges. The incident occurred in downtown Key West and involved anti-gay slurs. Davis will be charged with felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Davis is accused of nearly running down two bicycle riders with his rental scooter while using homophobic language in the early-morning hours of Feb. 23. The scooter in question is considered use of a deadly weapon.

The warrant used for the arrest reports that Davis’ use of “explicit bias language in reference to their sexual orientation” means that “Probable cause exists to believe there was evidence of prejudice in Davis’s attack of Seymour.” The slurs magnify the charges to hate crime status, carrying harsher penalties than simple assault.

The gay couple attacked, Kevin Seymour and Kevin Price, identified Davis in a photo line-up, as did one other witness. Seymour told authorities that, while the two men rode their bikes down Duval St., he shouted at a swerving scooter to warn of a near-accident with a car; Davis reportedly yelled back “You guys are a couple of fags,” and “I bet you faggots voted for that bitch Hillary… You live in Trump country now!”

Seymour threatened to call the police, and Davis’ scooter struck the bike Seymour rode, causing the rider to fall in the street. The two victims reported the scooter’s tag number to the police, who tracked it to a rental company. The company released a copy of Davis’ license — a requirement for rentals — to Key West police.

Davis posted a $10,000 bond on March 3 and told an Onslow County judge that he would fight the extradition order that officials issued to try him in Monroe County, Florida. He will next appear in court in Onslow County on March 30.

To avoid extradition, Davis must prove one of three possibilities: that he did not commit the crime, that he was not in Florida when the crime occurred, or that the information on the arrest warrant is wrong. Colleen Dunne, an assistant state attorney in Monroe County, told reporters that she doubts that Davis’ opposition to extradition will succeed.

The New-York-based Anti-Violence Project reports that “In the wake of the 2016 election, there has been a surge of incidents of hate violence reported across the country against LGBTQ people” as well as other minority groups. NBC covered a number of similar incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence nationwide.

Notably, if the incident had occurred in North Carolina, it may not have been charged as a hate crime. North Carolina state legislators have only recently introduced a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity as classes protected by hate crime laws.