A white man from Georgia who beat a black female Army reservist as her young child looked on and begged him to stop has been released from jail early.
Troy Dale West (pictured above) had only been sentenced to six months in prison for beating Tasha Hill (pictured below), after they had words while both trying to enter a Cracker Barrel restaurant.
West allegedly punched Hill in the face, kicked her as she fell to the ground and yelled racial epithets.
"I heard my daughter screaming, 'Mommy! Mommy!"' Hill said. "I was scared. I didn't know why it was happening."
During the trial, West's defense presented Hill as a hothead with a history of violence who spit on West and initiated the encounter. While evidence shows that Hill certainly may need anger counseling, West's brutal attack on this woman is inexcusable. I wonder would he have been as quick to attack a man of similar stature?
Despite the beat-down that he issued to a woman, West pleaded to misdemeanor charges in a plea deal that netted him only six months behind bars; he was facing felony charges and 44 years in jail.
It's even more of an insult that West did not serve the length of his short term. Given the way he beat Hill, isn't anyone concerned that this guy might be easy to set off and that he needs to learn there are serious consequences for unjustified violence?
"Someone that abuses a dog gets more time than West got," Hill's lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis said.
The sheriff in Clayton County, Georgia, said West received two days of time served credit for every day he painted trailers. He also acknowledged receiving pressure from West's friends to release him early, but said he did not relent.
I don't think we should take his word for it. An independent authority should launch an investigation.
Even more disturbing is that I can't imagine a black man in Georgia getting this sort of break if he had beat a white woman, even a white woman who had spit on him. The scars of racial injustice run deep in the South.
"Where I'm from, Mr. West, it's not good for a man to hit a woman. Also, where I'm from, it's not good to spit on a person. I can only imagine what my response would have been," Judge Geronda V. Carter said during her sentencing.
However, West, who was a foot taller and weighed more than 100 pounds than Hill, could have easily killed her. I would be moved to the point of anger if anyone spit on me, but the right thing for West to do would have been to contact police.
West's release also sends a message to African Americans that the justice system does not look out for us. When you talk to young black men who carry illegal weapons, many of them will say that they feel it is necessary to protect themselves because the system is not going to.
Hill's attitude was no excuse for the beat-down she received in front of her child.
She'll probably proceed with her civil suit, but given some of the evidence presented during the trial, she should also proceed to anger-management counseling. Every hot head needs to remember that they could run in to their match one day.
That said, we need to learn to treat one another how we would want to be treated. Despite the stress of life, work and kids, it's not right to take that stress out on someone else.
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