Muslim woman stands by her hate crime accusation, police dispute the claim

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 19:56:18-04

A Muslim woman beaten on Milwaukee's South Side claims she was targeted because of her religion. The story made international headlines, but as far as Milwaukee police are concerned, that's not what the victim told them.

Politicians and leaders in Milwaukee's Islamic community quickly condemned the April attack as a hate crime. However, documents obtained by TODAY'S TMJ4 suggest the victim herself never believed that.

Leila Hanichet told TMJ4 she is still hurting nearly three months after the attack. She was beaten while on her way home from morning prayers near 13th Street and Layton Avenue.

"First time he take my hijab," Hanichet said. "I'm trying to hold my hijab. He take my hijab off."

Hanichet spoke at the Islamic Center this morning, and when asked if she believed she was targeted because she was wearing a hijab, she said, "This is 100 percent. 100 percent yes."

But according to Milwaukee police, in three separate interviews with two different officers, she never once made that claim. In fact, the incident report includes this account to a detective that Hanichet, "...stated she does not feel she was attacked because she is Muslim."

Hanichet insists she told police all along she was attacked because of her religion and that no one since her police interviews asked her to change her story. She says she wants the man who did this to her caught.

"I want to catch him. Soon as possible," she said. "I want this man, (to) see him with my eyes."

Milwaukee police issued the following statement in regard to Hanichet's claims Thursday:

The Milwaukee Police Department remains confident that a thorough and complete investigation was conducted in this incident and that the victim's statements to MPD detectives were accurate. MPD's investigation is ongoing, and we continue to seek a suspect.