An Iowa woman was charged with attempted murder after running over a 14-year-old girl because she thought the teenager was Mexican, police said.
The woman, Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, of Des Moines, told police that she intentionally struck the girl with her vehicle on Dec. 9 because she believed that she was "a Mexican," Chief Michael G. Venema of the Clive Police Department said in a news release Friday.
"She went on to make a number of derogatory statements about Latinos to the investigators," Venema said.
The episode took place in Clive, Iowa, a city of about 17,000 residents about 10 miles west of Des Moines. Authorities said the girl was walking on the sidewalk on her way to Indian Hills Junior High School when "a vehicle left the roadway and ran the girl over," the news release said.
The driver fled without giving aid to the girl, police said.
The girl, who had a concussion and bruises, was hospitalized for two days, The Associated Press reported. Television news footage showed her in a neck brace and walking with crutches before being released.
"I don't remember the impact," the girl told the television station KCCI in Des Moines. "I just remember the car coming towards me."
Franklin was driving a Jeep Cherokee, according to Pete De Kock, assistant city manager for the city of Clive.
The girl was able to return to school a week later, a West Des Moines school district spokeswoman said at a news conference Friday.
Thursday, authorities identified Franklin as the driver and charged her. At a news conference, Venema said officers knocked on doors, checking for home video surveillance, and spoke with bus drivers to help develop details about the vehicle.
Franklin was already at the Polk County Jail on a separate assault charge that took place the same day as the hit and run.
She was accused of making racist comments to a West Des Moines convenience store clerk and customers, and of hurling items at the clerk, AP reported. Franklin was being held on $1 million bond on the attempted murder charge, according to jail records.
Venema said the girl's family requested privacy. The police did not reveal her identity.
"We are grateful that the victim is safe and recovering with her family," Mayor Scott Cirksena of Clive said in a statement Friday. "We recognize this hate, we reject it, and we will overcome it."
Venema also said investigators would continue to gather information to present to prosecutors.
"There is no place in our community (or any other) for this type of hatred and violence," he said. "We are committed to stand by and support this family and work diligently with them to seek justice."
The Des Moines chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Franklin to be charged with a hate crime.
"Clearly this is a hate crime," said Joe Henry, president of Council 307 for the Hispanic civil rights group in Des Moines, adding that members of his group plan to attend Franklin's court hearing on Dec. 30.
"When hate is promoted by the president of our country, it is going to show itself in the weakest elements of society and Latinos have been targeted," Henry said. "We had to deal with this ever since he was a candidate for president and it has just gotten worse over time."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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