Man charged with hate crime, assault against Burien mayor by state AG

Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta

BURIEN, Wash. — A man who allegedly assaulted Burien's mayor at a community event last July has been charged with a hate crime by the state attorney general's office.

Craig Pierce Tweney, 63, was charged with malicious harassment, Washington's hate crime statute, and fourth-degree assault after allegedly assaulting Mayor Jimmy Matta on July 21, 2018, at the Olde Burien Block Party. Matta is Burien's first Latino mayor.

In a statement that Matta provided to police after the alleged assault, he said that the same man had approached him twice in weeks prior to this incident, stating opposition to Matta's politics.

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Charging documents state that Tweney assaulted Matta at the party by placing his hands around Matta's neck, then causing him to scrape his arm on a fence. They also state that Tweney used racist language while committing the assault, including that he "wasn't going to let your people take over" and "Illegals aren't going to take over our community." Matta also said that Tweney told him, "I'll kill you and your illegal friends."

Tweney went to the King County Sheriff's Office two days later, claiming that while he did interact with Matta at the event, no assault occurred. He told police that he tripped and accidentally knocked Matta into fence.

An investigation jointly conducted by the King County Sheriff's Office, the Burien Police Department and the FBI revealed that Tweney committed the assault based on his perception of Matta's race or national origin.