A Native American man who said he was jumped and beaten by three white men this weekend in Eudora says the incident has him feeling uncomfortable in the small town, partly because of his race.
Ronald Battiest Jr., 31, who lives in Eudora and works at a convenience store and the grocery store there, said he was attacked walking home early Saturday morning from D-Dubs Bar and Grill, 10 W. Ninth St.
Battiest said he called a cab to take him to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and was transferred to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, Kan., because an X-ray showed bleeding on his brain. He said he improved and was released Sunday with a fractured eye socket, fractured nose and shoulder injury.
Eudora police are investigating the incident, a physical altercation that occurred about 2:30 a.m., Eudora Police Chief Wes Lovett said this week. LMH staff reported the incident to Eudora police, who interviewed the victim at KU Hospital, Lovett said.
Lovett said police have interviewed people in connection with the incident, though not all gave the same account. Lovett said police are “still talking to all the parties involved” and still working to develop suspects.
Lovett said he did not want to release further details of the case while it is still ongoing.
“We are early in our investigation,” he said.
When asked whether police had any indication the attack was racially motivated, Lovett said no.
Battiest said he did not tell police about the slur, because he was mainly trying to get out "the facts" and it did not seem important at the time.
Battiest said that earlier in the evening a female bartender was being harassed by a male patron and requested that Battiest ask the problem-patron to leave.
Battiest said his interaction with the man — whom he recognized from the convenience store — was calm and cordial but that the man waited outside in a car, and then another car full of people pulled up.
Later when Battiest left the bar to walk home a few blocks away, he said he didn’t see anyone following him. But then the car from earlier pulled up and three white men attacked him in an alley, he said, kicking him on the ground and choking him until he could not breathe, while a white woman egged them on.
Battiest said one of the men from the car called him a racial slur — albeit not one that corresponds to his actual race. Along with other profanities, the man called him the N-word, Battiest said.
“I’ve heard that multiple times throughout my life,” said Battiest. Battiest said he is brown-skinned and wears his black hair long, in Native style, but is often mistaken for Mexican or, in this case, maybe black?
Battiest said though he did not tell police about that slur, he did tell them about a previous argument with the man he recognized. Battiest said he has refused to cash him out at the convenience store because he was belligerent, though the man accused Battiest of refusing to serve him because he is white.
Battiest said right now he feels uncomfortable around town.
He said police assured him they would find those responsible and hold them accountable, but he’s frustrated no one has been arrested yet.
“Still no charges have come up, and these guys are still walking around,” he said. “I don’t want to have to worry every time I go to the grocery store.”
Battiest said a photo of his injured face has been on social media and that he’s gotten both negative and supportive reactions from the community.
“If this is an act of racism, I’m not afraid to show people these are the results of racism,” Battiest said. “I’ve been getting dirty words, I’ve been getting sympathy.”