After a local pediatrician forcefully collided with a Southern University student while jogging near the LSU lakes, Baton Rouge police found enough evidence to place the doctor under arrest for battery, but not enough to support a claim from Southern officials that the incident was racially motivated.
Detectives could not prove that the doctor used derogatory or racist language during the encounter, police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr. said Thursday. That's why Shane McKinney, 54, was arrested only on simple battery; he's not facing additional counts pertaining to whether the assault was racially motivated.
McKinney's attorney James Manasseh released a statement Thursday afternoon saying McKinney maintains his innocence and "was not arrested for any type of hate crime because the evidence does not support it."
Details about his motive remain unclear, but a police report released Thursday sheds more light on the incident itself, which occurred Monday evening on Dalrymple Drive. The report contains the following account:
A Baton Rouge pediatrician was arrested Wednesday and accused of punching and verbally assaulting a Southern University student while she was …
The victim told police that she and a friend were walking along Dalrymple Drive, which runs along the west side of the LSU lakes, when they noticed McKinney running toward them. She said McKinney yelled at them to get out of his way, then "deliberately raised his elbow and struck her in the shoulder/chest area — with enough force to cause the victim to turn 180 degrees."
McKinney told detectives that "he may have had incidental contact with the victim," according to the arrest report. His attorney said McKinney's physical contact with the victim was unintentional.
In addition to speaking with the victim, detectives interviewed an independent witness who watched the incident unfold and later followed McKinney to get a photo of him as he was running away. That's the photo police released to the public Tuesday, which led them to receive multiple tips identifying him as the suspect.
After police released the photo, Our Lady of the Lake employees received an internal email from president and CEO Scott Wester informing them that one of their physicians had been "identified as the suspect in an alleged racially motivated attack that surfaced online and in the media Tuesday evening."
The hospital system said McKinney had been placed on leave pending the results of an administrative investigation.
Hospital leadership also reacted to an earlier statement from Southern University officials, who said they believe the attack was racially motivated.
"At Our Lady of the Lake, we do not tolerate hate, discrimination, or violence by any member of our organization toward another person," Wester told his staff in the email. "To be very clear, there are no excuses and no exceptions to respect one another and our community."
Meanwhile, a police report released Thursday by the LSU Police Department revealed that McKinney had previously caused a stir among people exercising near the lakes, which is a popular spot for walking, running and biking near campus. That report makes no mention of alleged racist remarks and doesn't specify the victim's race, saying only that McKinney hit a woman with his shoulder while running past her on the sidewalk.
McKinney told police in that case that two women were walking "shoulder to shoulder beside each other" and he bumped one of them with his shoulder in passing them. The victim said she wanted to press charges, but McKinney was not arrested in that incident, which occurred the morning of July 4.
McKinney is a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. The hospital system removed his biography and other information about him from its website sometime Wednesday, several hours before confirming he was the subject of both criminal and administrative investigations.
A version of that deleted web page archived on Google shows McKinney received his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and then completed his pediatric residency at Children's of Alabama hospital. He also completed his fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
McKinney's attorney said those accomplishments are a testament to his character.
"Dr. McKinney's life and career has been devoted to helping and healing those in need during the most vulnerable times of their lives. He is a healer and not a harmer," Manasseh said in his statement. "He has no ill will towards anyone and looks forward to the legal system running its course and for the truth to be fully unveiled."
Manasseh also asked that anyone with cellphone video or surveillance footage of the incident provide that evidence to law enforcement.
According to his arrest report, McKinney's listed address is a home about two miles from where the incident occurred.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor offense in Louisiana that carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 fine and six months in jail. McKinney was released on $10,000 bail after his arrest Wednesday.