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May 16, 2011

Hate crime charges in McDonald's attack

The 18-year-old woman charged in an attack on a transgender woman at a Rosedale McDonald's that went viral last month will face an additional hate crime charge after being indicted Monday by a Baltimore County grand jury.

Teonna Brown, of the 2000 block of Kelbourne Rd., now faces one count of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, plus the newly-filed hate crime charge. She remains held without bond since her April 25 arrest. Brown's attorney, Timothy Knepp, declined to discuss the case in detail, but said "anything that happened, happened in self-defense."

"She's a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady, and I firmly believe that when this case comes to trial, she'll be found not guilty," Knepp said. He said hate crime charges "certainly do not apply in this case."

A hate crime charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, which could be added to 25 years in the assault charge. Chrissy Lee Polis has said she was attacked in an apparent dispute over her using a women’s restroom.

Prosecutors “came to the only possible conclusion in deciding to try the assault on Chrissy Lee Polis as a hate crime,” said Lynne Bowman, the interim executive director of Equality Maryland. “Lack of understanding or fear about someone who is transgender is never an excuse for violence and when it occurs, it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sandy Rawls, who founded Trans-United, a Baltimore-based group that fights transgender discrimination, praised the work of police and prosecutors in the case but said the charge is not reason to celebrate.

“It’s a tragedy for everybody involved,” Rawls said. “It’s a tragedy for the community, it’s a tragedy for Chrissy and it’s a tragedy for those two young ladies” charged in the beating.

“They’re going to find out the wrong way” that you can’t attack those you don’t understand, Rawls said.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger declined to comment on the case because it is pending, but said no one else will face charges.

Police and prosecutors say Brown was the woman shown on a video, along with a 14-year-old girl who is charged as a juvenile, beating Chrissy Polis inside the McDonald's as store employees looked on and laughed. Polis is shown being struck repeatedly in the head and is dragged across the restaurant by her hair, and at the end of the video appears to have a seizure. In an interview with The Sun, Polis said she believed she was attacked because she was using the woman's restroom. "It was definitely a hate crime," told The Sun on April 24.

The video was first posted to YouTube and then went viral after being uploaded to another site and linked from the Drudge Report, garnering hundreds of thousands of views. 

The indictment charges Brown with assaulting Polis, as well as the McDonald's manager, Darrick Jones, and a Good Samaritan, Vicki Thoms, who tried to intervene.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:15 PM | | Comments (43)
Categories: Baltimore County, Breaking news


So, is the so called "hate crime" because the victim was WHITE or because it is a sexually confused individual?

Is being a sexually confused cross dresser more worthy of a charge than its skin color?


If Polis was attacked because she was white, that would also be a hate crime. However, it appears that in this instance, she was attacked for being transgendered.

Neither is more "worthy" than the other - both are hate crimes, and should be treated as such.

Anonymous - She was attacked for being transgendered, she is no way sexually confused - you must be thinking about yourself.

JR< how do you know if it was not mentioned in this article?

And then why not TWO hate crimes if one was brought?

Seems that a white person is not as protected as a sexually confused cross dresser! That is not equality now is it?

Dear moron: the fact that it reads transgender means someone who is of the different sec of which one was born...

I don't think it is right either way to beat on somone like that these day's everyone wants to pick a fight now i dont wanna sound racist but if it would have been the other way around so much would have been done and more people would have jumped in another thing IF YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE AS A WOMEN YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO USE THE BATHROOM AS A WOMEN . I REALLY FEAL SORRY FOR THAT POOR GIRL AND NOW SHE IS BROADCASTED ALL OF THE NET AND EVERYWHERE SHE GOES PEOPLE WILL KNOW HER AS THE TRANSGENDER WHO GOT BEAT UP AT MCDONALDS SOMONE SHOULD PAY FOR THAT! CRISSY HUNNI I HOPE U READ THIS GOD BLESS YOU HUNNI DONT LET ANYONE BRING YOU DOWN


It's 2011 for crying out loud! Go educate yourself so you don't sound like an ignorant neanderthal.

Thank you to the Grand Jury for understanding this attack was a hate crime.

She remains held without bond since her April 25 arrest. Brown's attorney, Timothy Knepp, declined to discuss the case in detail, but said "anything that happened, happened in self-defense."

"She's a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady, and I firmly believe that when this case comes to trial, she'll be found not guilty," Knepp said. He said hate crime charges "certainly do not apply in this case."

Yeah, she really looks well mannered and thoughtful, doesn't she? Well mannered and thoughtful ladies ALWAYS go around beating up on other people. And SELF-DEFENSE??? Give me a break...this attorney must think everyone else are idiots!! Sure wish I was on the jury...fry her!!

This girl is such a well mannered, thoughtful young lady that was charged in previous year with an assault at the same McDonald's!

The whole thing was sickening and horrible. I think the 16 year old should be charged as an adult, also.

Oh so her lawyer insists she is a nice young lady. Really?? Did he watch the video?? Does he know this psycho beat up another woman at this same McDonald's last year?

I hope this animal gets put in a cage at the local jail for several years. There, maybe a big woman who wants to be a man can set her straight (no pun intended) on gender identity!

I thought the fight was over a man. I'd heard in the news coverage that the girls beat up Ms. Polis because one of them thought the victim was checking out her boyfriend.

If that's the case, how is this a hate crime at all? They were fighting over a guy.

Based on his comments I assume the lawyer is expecting to be able to keep the jury from seeing the video. Hard to imagine how he would convince people who saw it that it was necessary to launch a sustained attack against a person who was not even protecting themselves in self-defense

She was well-mannered, as oppose to what???? Godzilla..... That stuff is crap, and so is her lawyer. You can go around beating up on somebody who is what they are. Lock her up and burn the key. If this whatever gets off (and her friend) this is a hate crime. what are we telling our children.

self defense??? ummm kicking someone in the head while they are on the ground covering up and getting the crap beat out of them by multiple people is not self defense. Not like the lawyer cares, he is getting paid either way. just take a plea bargain and do time served + probation

To "Your Mom", someone cannot be a different sex than what they were when they were born. They can have operations to surgically chop themselves up and add things that weren't there (still fake) but they will always be the sex they were born, no matter how they "feel inside".

Regardless of the scientific facts presented, if someone wants to dress up like a woman, that is their business. However, they do not belong in the ladies room if they were born a man.

Stop with the stupidity of "Hate" crimes. This was attempted murder plain and simple.

I have seen many cases where hate crimes seems fit like for example some Jewish kid in park heights attacked a black kid walking around their community with a radio. That case did not have a hate crime tag to it because wrong doers only use the law the proper way if it serves their "SPECIAL INTEREST." Why do we applaud the bad guy, I do believe they made the right call here, but the rarely indict or charge people with hate crime when blacks are the victims. They should of give her a misdemeanor assault and then maybe I'd believe the courts where fair and balanced.

Yes, I see the truly uneducated are editorializing again.

"She's a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady".

I just love lawyers.

This is clearly not a Race Crime but A Hanist Crime!!! What is wrong with people that witness such injustice and dont respond with help!!! THEY ARE JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME..

Tank - the majority of hate crime prosecutions nationwide involve black victims. I'm not sure why you have concluded otherwise.

"Well mannered...." Wow, if the video is played in front of the jury, black or white it will not matter. Dear white folks... if you think that you have a issue with girls like this know that it is nothing with how much the rest of us black folks can not stand girls like this. If anything, this lawyer better pray for an all white liberal Berkley type female jury. The attitude that has been displayed by a segment our young African American sisters is appalling.

What happened to the employees that video taped the whole fight and then warned the alleged criminal that the police were coming? The should be tried for aiding and abetting.

Mr. Timothy Knepp, how in the hell do attorneys like you exist? Self defense? What a joke.

Did the person doing the punching realize she was punching a man? No, she thought she was punching a woman given that the person looked like a woman -- long hair, makeup, boobies. How is this a hate crime when the supposed hater didn't know that the person dressed as a woman has the DNA of a man? The crime wasn't against Chrissy b/c of how Chrissy dresses, but because Chrissy appeared to try to pickup someone else's boyfriend. Gender is conspicuous, so is race, but DNA is invisible to the human eye. The words in the video don't say anything about Chrissy being a cross-dresser; the words are about "you get off my man." Chrissy looks so convincingly like a woman that no one at a glance would think she was a man, so why charge the defendant with a hate crime against transgendered?

Mark from Middle River, we white Berkeley-type women aren't going to cut the two aggressors any slack. This was an absolutely unprovoked assault.

If we have hate crimes do we have love crimes? A crime is a crime... Period. There is no excuse for beating up someone as everyone saw on the video. Is a crime out of the supposition of hatred any less a crime than one done out of being a generally hate filled person or out of anger or rage? How about bullying? Is bullying a hate crime? What have we gotten ourselves in to? This was a criminal act of violence on another person. PERIOD.

Self defense? Really Knepp? REALLY? So it's 2 women - one of whom should clearly be laying of the McDonalds - against one petite woman, who lays on the floor covering her head probably praying that the gargantuan leaves her alone. She clearly does not provoke her victimizers or lash out at them physically. She does not even defend herself using physical force. Yet the gargantuan maliciously beats on this woman for an EXTENDED period of time, continuously re-approaching this victim as she lay defenseless on the floor. I cannot WAIT to hear about this self-defense argument. Come on, Knepp, didn't you see the damn video? The rest of the world did, and you best believe your jury already has.

It is such a shame that two women from a minority population would perpetuate the same hatred they likely experience on a daily basis.

And this brave young woman should seriously consider holding McDonald's liable for its overwhelming failure to manage this situation. It's shocking to see how completely inept those employees are.

If a case ever deserved to serve as an example, it's this one. Here's an opportunity for the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office to make a much-needed, meaningful impact.

Chrissy said she knew the manager Darrick Jones from a previous job.

"She is a well mannered thoughtful young lady" Since we are on this B.S. political correctness hate crimes garbage, then lets play accordingly. This attorney should be prosecuted for a hate crime, or a MR. DUMASS crime at a minimum. Good luck with your self defense "defense". Yes she is well manored, well manored in the art of violence. She may be thoughtful but not the kind of thought that a jury would appreciate. Hey Mr. Dumass Lawer Man, how about throwing yourself as well as your client on the mercy of the court. How about asking for some forgiveness and mercy rather than making things worse. Prefer mercy over judgement.

I doubt that the young lady and 14 year old child will ever get a fair trail. I said from Day 1 this was a case of self-defense and I was right. The 'victim' exposed himself to these two young ladies, and they defended themselves as necessary to get away from a predator. If someone in a restroom exposed themself to my 14 y/o child I would probably react the same way......and so would all of you hypocrites. Ms. Brown should be applauded for protecting a child from a possible sexual assault. I just pray that she receives a fair trial, which is highly unlikely. To call this a hate crime is an insult to the rash of hate crimes we see all over America directed at black people.

Dude looks like a lady! He's a she-he...he's a she-he...its a shim!

A real life BOYS DON'T CRY.

Some people are sick puppies.


A man, that's right! a man attacking a minor. One of those girls is only 14 teen years old. I don't care if that cave ape dresses like a woman, he is still anatomically a man.

I am very suprised that Holder didn't push this under the rug and drop all charges.

Since the person that committed the crime is a sister and has been oppressed for hundreds of years. Blame everyone else.

You are what your born. There is no operation or doctor that can change that.

Being a mentally confused person is not a protected class any more than being white is.

This case proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that hate crime laws are nothing but PC thought crimes.
When ones perceived, yes perceived gender is more PROTECTED than ones skin color, then we have stooped to a new low in this country.

Protected classes of people (homos, sexually confused, minorities etc) who are entitled to be protected by more laws than the unprotected classes we have set up a new segregated society, segregated by looks and gender.

We have moved backwards in society and it will ruin this nation.

and attorneys wonder why they have the reputation they have......Thanks Mr Knepp, you're a gem!

Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. § 10-304(c) defines "sexual orientation" as "the identification of an individual as to male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity." I would ask, what is a "gender-related identity" and how can this statute withstand constitutional muster? I hope the defendant is acquited of that charge. She richly deserved to be charged with assault, based on the videotape.

"She's a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady, and I firmly believe that when this case comes to trial, she'll be found not guilty,"
I honestly can't stop laughing. I mean, a well-mannered, thoughtful young lady??
Riiiiiiggggghhhhttttt... (still laughing.)

I give help for this girl why would thay do something like this

Wow there are honestly some dumbass ppl in the world. If you don't like trans ppl guess what we don't like you. Hey guess what I live as male and was born female. I'm 6'3. Cut to death can bench 250. Most women salivate at the site of me. They have no idea of my past life. I can guarantee any guy with negative comments on trans ppl is short, fat, ugly and still living with mommy. Trans ppl need to stand up for themselves!!!!! I am Proud of who I am. Luckily I have never had anyone try and assault me. They probably know what the outcome would be. Well Baltimore that tranny fucked up the fat ass at your local McDonald's. Employees. So to anyone who thinks I'm a women would it be fair for me to beat the veal out of a defenseless women. You ppl are complete idiots.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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