Two strangers get into a dustup at a nightspot for no good reason: It's an incredibly common story that's probably happening at this very moment somewhere on the planet. But an incident that took place at the Oasis Hookah Bar stands out because it's being investigated as a bias-motivated crime. Why? The victim is from Morocco and the suspects' post-pummeling remarks implied that the beatdown was racially inspired.
During the wee hours of April 28, according to the Denver Police Department, a Moroccan native identified by 7News as Bader Belfageoua was visiting the Oasis when he got into a confrontation with two other patrons.
What happened? Belfageoua told the station that he was heading to the bathroom when he bumped into a guy's chair. The man wasn't happy, allegedly responding to Belfageoua's apology by shoving him.
Suddenly, the fight was on -- but the second suspect who joined forces with the first man ended it as quickly as it began by knocking Belfageoua out.
The blow resulted in a concussion plus facial bruises, abrasions and no clear memory on Belfageoua's part about what was said afterward. However, a friend of his claims to have overheard the men celebrating over the fisticuffs.
"They were saying this is what you get for coming to America," Belfageoua told 7News. "People told me when they went outside they were making fun of where you were from and they said like, you come here, you get your ass kicked."
Unwise words, since any suggestion that an offense was influenced by race can trigger an investigation by the bias-motivated-crime section of the DPD -- which is precisely what's now underway.
Moreover, the cops have a compelling piece of evidence to aid them in their investigation. One of the suspects got into an argument with a woman right after the assault, and a Belfageoua pal clicked a pic of him apparently trying to explain himself. Here's the full-size, notably sheepish image, courtesy of the DPD:
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If you recognize this fella, Denver Police would like to chat with you. Give them a shout at the main Crime Stoppers number, 720-913-STOP (7867).
Oh yeah: And if someone bumps into your chair, shrug it off.
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