The Washtenaw County Prosecutor has decided not to pursue ethnic intimidation charges in the at Eastern Michigan University. The was made February 26 by First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Konrad Siller.
EMU Police suggested ethnic intimidation charges after concluding their investigation of the incident, which involved a nude black baby doll hung from a noose in resident adviser Christopher Casillas’ shower. The doll was set up as an alleged “prank” by the girlfriend of one of Casillas’ suitemates and was found at 4:15 a.m. on February 11. The police investigation resulted in a 17-page report for the prosecutor’s office and included a warrant request of the now denied charge.
As Casillas is African-American, both the police and county prosecutor acknowledged that the doll was placed as a targeted harassment to Casillas. However, Siller states in his charge denial to Police Sergeant Darin Taylor that the action alone does not constitute an act of ethnic intimidation.
As stated in an earlier article by the Echo, ethnic intimidation occurs when a victim is the target of malicious intimidation or harassment due to their race, religion, gender or national origin. The malicious act can take form as physical and verbal actions, as well as destruction of property and if not pursued criminally, the victim can pursue it as a civil action. If pursued criminally, it is punishable by imprisonment of two years or less, a fine of $5,000 or both.
Siller says that the incident does not constitute ethnic intimidation as there was no physical contact with Casillas in the hanging of the doll, nor was there destruction of his property. Furthermore, the attorney noted in his letter, there was “no evidence [Casillas] was in fear of physical contact or damage occurring to his property and nor was there reasonable cause to believe such an act would occur.”
Despite the prosecutor’s findings, the Office of Wellness and Community Standards is continuing its student conduct case regarding the incident, with no details being released due to student record involvement. Furthermore, spokesman Geoff Larcom said that the decision will not change how the University view and handle the situation.
“The University remains deeply committed to the overarching principles of attacking both the historical legacies, and the current realities, of racism and hate in all of their forms. This is a nationwide struggle. We are not alone, we are not immune from it, and we will not shy away from it,” he said in a statement earlier today.
The decision comes less than a week after the university’s Department of Housing and Residence Life . The department also allegedly revoked the perpetrator’s swipe access into the residence halls and moved Casillas’ suitemates to a new space.