By Sarah Brusig

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) provided The B-Town Blog with data involving a hate crime case they filed on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 against Seattle resident Phillip E. Haskins. According to the report, Haskins “made racial slurs while threatening to kill a man who tried to calm him down inside a 7-Eleven when the card reader wasn’t working.”

Haskins had prior criminal history in Texas and Alaska. The KCPAO asked that Haskins be held in jail on $10,000 bail as he was considered “a danger to the community and unlikely to return to court if released.” However, “he was released by a judge on his personal recognizance.”

Haskins’ arraignment, where a plea is entered, is scheduled for 8:30am on March 21, 2022 at the King County Courthouse.

“Earlier this year, deputy prosecuting attorneys from our office met with officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to explain what’s needed to prove a hate crime case in court, and ways to identify a hate crime,” Casey McNerthney from the KCPAO said. “The work done by SPD on this case that allowed us to file a felony charge, and we intend to prove this case in court beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Download the charging documents here (WARNING: contains racist language).

How a hate crime goes from a police report to a criminal charge
In order to charge a case, a hate crime needs to be reported to police, then referred to an investigating detective. The next step is the completed investigation – which by law is handled separately from the KCPAO office – needs to be referred to prosecutors who can charge it after an independent review of the evidence. That’s why there’s a difference between the number of cases reported and the number of cases charged by prosecutors.

“There are many steps before a case gets to us, and we are obligated to charge only the cases that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court,” McNerthney said.

“Hate crimes are unique in that we have to prove the motive beyond a reasonable doubt at the time the case is charged. When we can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, we charge that hate crime,” McNerthney added. “If we don’t have that evidence, we explain to the investigating detective what we’d need to be able to prove the case. Our charging decisions are not statements against victims and their feelings – they’re based on what we’re able to prove in court.”

Hate crime stats in King County
There were 223 hate crimes filed in King County between 2018 and today. Of those cases filed, there is clear data for 182 of them. Of the anti-race/ethnicity hate crimes, anti-Black hate crimes are the most common. This current case involving Haskins is one of them.

    • Hate crimes against someone’s sexual orientation is the second most common type of hate crime (1 cases charged so far this year, 39 cases from 2018–2021. Again, that’s based on the 182 number, though more cases have been charged overall.)
    • Hate crimes against someone’s gender or gender expression is the third most common category (1 case so far in 2022, 20 cases since 2018). This statistic is based on the 182 number of 223 overall charged hate crime cases.
    • Hate crimes against someone’s national origin happened in 13 cases from 2018–2021, including four cases in 2021. (Based on the 182 number of 223 overall charged hate crime cases.)
    • Of the charged hate crimes between 2019 and so far in 2022 with clear data, 62 of those were anti-Black hate crimes, including 10 in 2021. Mr. Haskins’ case is the first charged case with clear data in 2022. Of the cases,15 were anti-Asian hate crimes, including 7 in 2021. (Based on the 182 cases, though 223 have been charged overall.)

McNerthney recognized that:

“Sentence ranges are set by state lawmakers, and in some cases the felony assault crimes that we’ve charged carry a longer sentence than would a hate crime conviction. A hate crime is designated as a Class C felony by state lawmakers, the lowest level of felony crimes — and that’s something our office would like to see changed.”

Sarah Brusig has been in media and publishing for over 15 years and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington chapter. Sarah is the recipient of the McCormick Foundation New Media Women grant and was presented with the Community Builder Award by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She resides in South King County where she regularly advocates for human rights, animal rights and education. Keep up with Sarah on Twitter and Facebook or to reach out with story ideas/suggestions.