La Crosse police say their investigation shows downtown incident not a hate crime

Police conducted interviews and viewed surveillance video to make determination

An incident that happened in downtown La Crosse early Friday morning is raising concerns of a possible hate crime.

Police have been investigating if a hate crime took place on 3rd Street near Big Al’s.
RJ Johnson of La Crosse suffered a broken leg at the end of the incident.

How he got that broken leg and the altercation leading up to it is where some people think a hate crime occurred.

Police say now that they’ve seen the video and talked to witnesses they didn’t find evidence of a hate crime.

“We’re not finding anything at this point that indicates that this was a hate related crime. Certainly as I indicated, this is certainly an incident where we have some intoxicated people. They were obviously getting into it verbally, the altercation escalated, from all indicators are that as this thing escalated there was some pushing and shoving and Mr. Johnson ultimately ended up breaking his leg by falling when he attempted to tackle this other individual,” according to Sergeant Tom Walsh.

In the security camera video that was made available by the La Crosse police from the incident, you can initially see a group of people down in front of Bronco’s bar.  You can see RJ Johnson wearing a light colored top and at one point is down on the ground, although it’s not clear if he fell or was pushed.

You see him pop back up and then again police say you can see some pushing and shoving.
You can see Johnson running and then all of a sudden an unknown male appears to push or hit him and then Johnson falls into the street.

Johnson gets up again, starts walking and then runs toward a woman he had had words with earlier, attempts to push her and they both end up falling into the street, all tangled up.
This is when police believe Johnson broke his leg.

By phone, Johnson says he still feels like he was the victim.
Johnson said he was singled out and called anti-gay names.
Obviously, surveillance video isn’t going to have audio so what kinds of things were said is hard to verify.

Regardless, police are leaving it up to the District Attorney to see if any charges should be filed.
Johnson says he’s undergone surgery to repair his leg and is still hospitalized.

A GoFundMe page was set-up in his name, but police are saying the information shared on that page doesn’t match what they found during their investigation.

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