Man accused of hate crime against lesbian says he’s gay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friends of the man accused of a assaulting a lesbian because she was gay say he doesn’t’ hate gays. In fact, they say he is gay.

Police say James Threadgill violently attacked his neighbor Tuesday night.

Gina Fortner says that’s not the man she knows.

“When ‘hate crime’ came out, it was staggering because James is a gay man. He is very helpful in the community,” she said.

Fortner knows Threadgill as a man who loves his country. He served two tours in Iraq, and was injured when an IED hit his Humvee.

“He suffered a traumatic brain injury and he suffers from PTSD,” she said.

She says his injuries turned an argument into an attack Tuesday night.

Fortner told WREG Threadgill was in an ongoing dispute with his neighbor at this apartment complex on Stonewall over a barking dog.

Police say during Tuesday’s argument, Threadgill snapped and pushed the victim against an elevator and choked her.

The victim and her girlfriend say he called her nasty names about being a lesbian.

Fortner thinks when it got heated, Threadgill blacked out. It’s part of his PTSD.

“When he came to, he had his hands around her throat and he had no idea what happened from the time he blacked out at the time he came back to reality,” she said.

She says he’s apologetic for what happened.

“That is what thing he told me. He is horrified of what he did,” she said.

She blames the head trauma for his behavior.

“He is also a victim.”

But the victim’s girlfriend says it doesn’t explain the gay slurs.

She said “that is not how the LGBT family treats each other.”

She still believes the attack was motivated out of hate.

“I absolutely do not agree that he hates anyone,” his friend said.

That’s will now be a decision investigators will make.

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