RASHOMON-ING* THE NEWS: ‘Horrific’ Hate Crime Turns Out To Be A Lot Of Hot Air And Smack

On January 30th, the Daily News’ Stephanie Farr trumpeted the brutal details of this disturbing story:

IN A HORRIFIC assault in Center City on Saturday night, three teenagers who were spouting racial slurs pulled a man out of a cab to beat him. And when the cabdriver intervened to stop the assault, the teens turned their rage on him, police said yesterday. About 8:25 p.m., a cab was stopped at a red light at 15th and Chestnut streets when two 17-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy approached and started calling the male passenger in the back seat racially derogatory names, police said. The boys then threw an unknown liquid at the cab before they opened the door, pulled the passenger out and started to pummel him, police said. When the cabbie got out of the car to see what was going on, the passenger ran away and the teens turned on the cabbie. They punched him in the face, kicked him and threw a liquid on him, police said. Despite being outnumbered, the cabbie grabbed a tire iron from his trunk, at which time the teens ran away. The driver flagged down a police officer, and the three boys were arrested. They were charged as juveniles with aggravated assault and related offenses. The cabbie suffered an injury to his right eye and had abdominal and side pain, police said. The passenger remains unidentified. Police said the three teens were black and the cabbie and passenger were white. Police did not immediately know whether the teens would or could face hate-crime charges.MORE

Shit! Right? But wait, upon closer inspection, it turns almost NONE of that was true. From yesterday’s Daily News:

All charges were withdrawn against two of the three juveniles who were accused of assaulting a cabbie and his passenger in Center City this January and the third teen was given probation after pleading guilty to a single count of simple assault this morning.Assistant District Attorney Paul Goldman said after a “very thorough investigation” it was determined that two of the teens who were charged took no part in the assault. The third teen hit the passenger with an open hand through the window of the cab after the two exchanged words, he said. The cab driver was assaulted by a teen who remains unidentified. According to Goldman, the young man who pleaded guilty and two other kids were at a bus stop at 15th and Chestnut streets around 8:30 p.m. Jan. 28 when the cab stopped at the intersection with Brian Goldman, a University of Pennsylvania senior who is no relation to the prosecutor, inside. Through the open windows of the cab one of the teens said something in a joking manner to Goldman, like “Can we get in with you?” Goldman, the passenger, responded in a more “serious” tone, something to the affect of “Well, that’s why I’m in the cab and you’re not in the cab,” said Goldman, the prosecutor. The 17-year-old who was charged felt insulted and reach in the cab and smacked Goldman’s cheek, according to prosecutors. Goldman got out of the cab and the driver, feeling like his passenger had been assaulted, went to the trunk to get a tire iron. The driver was struck in the right eye from behind by an unidentified member of a group of people who had gathered at the scene, according to prosecutors. Earlier assertions that the teens had shouted racial epithets during the attack have not been substantiated. MORE

LESSON: Sometimes journalism is the first draft of history, and other times, like this time, it’s just a stenographer for the cops who got it wrong, losing her bearings in the fog of faux race war.

* substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it. [via WIKIPEDIA]

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