Zachary Tennen at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing - Photo from Detroit Free Press
EAST LANSING (LANSING STATE JOURNAL) - Ingham County's prosecutor said a Michigan State University sophomore who claimed he was punched in the face last month because he is Jewish was not the victim of a hate crime.
"There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime. None. Zero," Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Monday. "I think it's a shame when one person makes an allegation and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it."
Dunnings' comments follow a statement released Friday by the Anti-Defamation League's Michigan office, which said it believed the "evidence does not support (the) claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by ... religion."
Zachary Tennen said he was the victim of a hate-related attack during an Aug. 26 off-campus party, which left him with a broken jaw. His family made statements to the media about their belief Tennen was confronted by supposed neo-Nazis with shaved heads.
Tennen, who is from Franklin, and his family said the attackers had asked if he was Jewish and raised their arms in Nazi salutes before he was struck.
But witnesses gave a different account of what happened, and police have said publicly it did not appear to be a hate crime. Tennen was punched once, police said.
An 18-year-old Farmington Hills man accused of striking Tennen has not been charged.
Dunnings said he met with East Lansing police detectives last week and asked for more information. It's possible he will make a decision this week about whether to file charges, he said.
Police said Tennen got into a confrontation with two men in front of a house in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue, as most of the guests were hanging out in back. Tennen's family initially said someone stapled his gums, and although a witness saw him remove a staple from his mouth, police said it's unclear how it got there - and it didn't appear related to the assault.
An apparent motive has not been released. Neither Tennen or his parents could be reached for comment.
Lansing State Journal