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East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III speaks during presentation of findings in the March 18, 2017 fatal shooting encounter that left East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office deputy Shawn Anderson and civilian Brandon Wiley dead, at a press conference on Friday, March 9, 2018. Anderson and an EBRSO detective were investigating an complaint filed against Wiley alleging that he had raped of a 15-year-old female. The investigation detailed Friday concluded that Wiley was killed by an EBRSO officer whose actions, including use of deadly force, were justified.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III has recused himself from the case of a jogging pediatrician who forcefully collided with a Southern University student earlier this week near the LSU lakes, an incident that Southern officials claim was racially motivated. 

Baton Rouge police arrested Shane McKinney, 54, on simple battery Wednesday. Detectives concluded he intentionally struck the female student but found insufficient evidence to support the claims of a racial motive. However, the incident remains under investigation.

Moore announced his recusal decision Friday morning. He said one of McKinney's close relatives works in the District Attorney's Office, which left Moore little choice but to send the case to the state Attorney General's Office.

"Given this employee's years of service and close working relationships within the office, there would always be questions concerning the partiality of the district attorney in this case," Moore wrote in a court filing announcing the recusal. He requested that the attorney general appoint a member of his staff or the DA of another district to prosecute the case.

Whoever takes over the case will also review an earlier complaint against McKinney that bears striking resemblance to the incident Monday evening involving the Southern student. In both cases, the victims were Black women.

McKinney has maintained his innocence. In a statement released Thursday via his attorney, he claimed his physical contact with the student was unintentional. 

The first incident occurred July 4 when McKinney bumped into a woman who was walking "shoulder to shoulder" with her friend, according to a police report. The report makes no mention of a possible racial motive, but the victim said she wanted to pursue simple battery charges against McKinney. He was never arrested.

But, in the more recent case, detectives with the Baton Rouge Police Department interviewed an independent witness who watched the confrontation unfold and then followed McKinney to get his photo. That helped police gather enough evidence to support the simple battery arrest, but witnesses were unable to corroborate the victim's allegation that McKinney used the N-word during the interaction, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation who are not authorized to speak publicly about the details.

Southern University officials released a statement on Tuesday saying they believe the incident was racially motivated and calling on Baton Rouge residents to help eradicate racism. That was before McKinney was arrested, and before police cited insufficient evidence to accuse him of anything other than simple battery.

When contacted Friday, the university declined to provide further comments or elaborate on its previous statement. Officials said only that BRPD is still investigating. 


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.