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Hearing Wednesday in restaurant beating case

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A hearing to determine whether there is sufficient cause to re-arrest a Poulan, Ga., man, accused of punching and beating a woman at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Clayton County Magistrate Court.

Army Reservist Tashawnea Hill, 35, of Jonesboro, filed an application for a criminal arrest warrant last Friday against Troy Dale West, 47. In the application, Hill said West cursed at her and yelled racial slurs, while attacking her in front of her 7-year-old daughter, at the restaurant located at 1458 Southlake Plaza Drive. Hill is African American, and West is Caucasian.

"Troy West imprisoned me without authority, as he kicked and punched me while calling me a [expletives deleted]" Hill said in the application for the arrest warrant. "My seven-year-old daughter was forced to witness and watch him punch me in the face, head and body as he also kicked me," she said.

"He kicked me with his shoe-laden feet. I have/am currently suffering serious physical injury with multiple parts of my body, and have not regained full use of these body parts," she said.

According to a Morrow Police Department report, the incident occurred Sept. 9, in the foyer of the restaurant, as Hill was entering the establishment with her daughter, and West was leaving the building. Hill told police that West almost hit her daughter with the restaurant door as he was exiting. Witnesses told police that Hill politely asked West to be careful, according to a Morrow Police Department press release. West responded by attacking Hill, according to the police statement by Capt. James Callaway.

Morrow Police charged West with misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and felony cruelty to children. He was arrested at the scene, transported to the Clayton County Jail, and, later, released on bond. A judge later reduced the cruelty to children charge to a misdemeanor.

"The desired outcome is to have felony charges added," said Kip Jones, Hill's attorney, about tomorrow's hearing. "We'd like to see him detained following the addition of new charges," he said.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said her office is reviewing the evidence in the case to determine whether felony charges should be brought. The FBI is also investigating the incident to determine whether West should face hate-crime charges.

The incident has gained national attention. Civil rights groups, including the NAACP, Rainbow Push Coalition, SCLC, and the National Action Network, have called for the restaurant's video surveillance tape, that reportedly captured the incident, to be released to the public.

Lawson, whose office has the tape, said she is ethically prohibited from releasing it, due to the pending prosecution.

West is not required to attend Wednesday's pre-issuance hearing, which is scheduled for 8 a.m., according to court records.

Jonesboro Attorney Larry King is representing West, according to court documents. King could not be reached for comment on Monday.