On October 6, the jury trial for Nate Mancha, reached it’s conclusion. The jury came back with a guilty verdict for the 1st degree Felony Assault charge. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the Attempted Murder charge, resulting in a mistrial for that charge alone. Today the El Paso county District Attorney’s office announced that they would not pursue a new trial for the Attempted Murder charge, which means the process moves to the sentencing phase for the guilty verdict. On December 2, 2014, Nate will have his sentencing hearing, where he faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum sentence of 32 years.
While we are relieved that Nate and his family do not have to face another trial experience, we are angered and saddened that yet another community member is facing the harsh realities of the criminal injustice system. Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve this verdict with Nate and his family.
We know all too well that LGBTQ communities face severe and deadly violence. We also know that LGBTQ people who defend themselves from violence are often fighting for their lives, as Nate was on March 1st, 2014.
Nate’s support campaign will continue. Colorado Anti-Violence Program calls on it’s community of supporters, organizations, and families to come forward to support Nate and continue the fight against hate violence. Please check in with Nate’s support site and CAVP for news and to give support.
A little background info on Nate from his support site:
Nate Mancha defended himself against homophobic hate violence that is believed to be triggered by a rainbow sticker on the back of his car. Three months later, it is Nate, not his attacker, awaiting trial for 2nd degree attempted murder. This case fits a disturbing trend of people of color and LGBTQ people facing prosecution for defending their lives.
On March 1, 2014, 24-year-old Nate Mancha was driving his partner Carlton “Cruz” Mohn to work in Colorado Springs. To avoid being late, Nate cut off a driver to make a quick left turn. As Nate and Cruz pulled into the shopping center, they noticed that the car they cut off, a green 2002 Dodge Caravan, followed them. As Cruz got out of his car to go to work, the driver allegedly yelled out “faggot assholes” and drove away. After Nate dropped Cruz off, the same man, cornered Nate and used his van to block the exit to the Erindale shopping center parking lot.
The man allegedly yelled a variety of slurs against Nate’s sexual orientation, along with threats of violence. The same man then exited his vehicle and approached Nate’s truck, crowbar in hand, and continued yelling and threatening Nate. He hit Nate’s truck with the crowbar, visibly damaging the vehicle.
Nate Mancha feared for his life. He had no weapon to protect himself. He could see no individuals to approach for help. He had no weapon to protect himself. He did not have a cellphone to call for help. It is alleged that as Nate fled the scene, he hit the attacker with his truck. The attacker suffered injuries and was hospitalized as a result.
Colorado Springs local news sources portrayed the incident as a vicious case of road rage. The man who shouted derogatory terms and threatened Nate’s safety, was portrayed as the victim. Nate, who fled in self-defense, was described as “armed and dangerous.” The media reports made no mention of the homophobic attack or details about who was the initial aggressor.
In the police report, the aggressor misidentified the vehicle make, model, color and license plate, but was very specific about the rainbow sticker on the back of Nate’s car.
Nate’s partner Cruz explains that when they saw the biased reporting of the homophobic attack they felt betrayed by the media, police, and the Colorado Springs community. Nate did not turn himself in because he feared that the police would arrest him without hearing his side of the story.