Reservist testifies about attack in Ga. restaurant

AP News
Posted: Oct 20, 2010 5:36 PM
Reservist testifies about attack in Ga. restaurant

An Army Reservist said Wednesday that a Georgia man punched her and yelled racial epithets in front of her 7-year-old daughter during an attack last year at a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Tasha Hill testified during a trial in suburban Atlanta that her daughter, who witnessed the assault, is still traumatized.

Hill, who is black, took the stand as Clayton County prosecutors began their case against Troy Dale West, a white man charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, battery and other charges in the September 2009 incident.

West's attorney, Tony Axam, said during opening statements that Hill spit on his client, which Hill has denied. Axam also challenged the woman's story and described her as a calculating, combative person who had a history of provoking confrontations.

Hill told jurors that as she and her daughter entered the restaurant, West swung the door open, narrowly missing the little girl.

"I pulled her back and said to the man, 'Hey sir, you need to watch out. You almost hit my daughter in the face,'" Hill said during her emotional testimony.

Hill said West began to punch her in the face and kick her as she fell to the ground, yelling racial slurs at her.

During cross-examination, Axam asked hill about her temper and portrayed her as a woman prone to threatening others and losing her temper. Axam aired an audio recording for jurors depicting a raging Hill yelling profanities during an argument with neighbors.

"I felt very threatened," Hill said of the incident, which she said occurred after her home was broken into over the summer. "I was angry."

Axam also mentioned two other arrests. In the first, Hall was accused of telling a woman "I'll cut you" when the woman stepped on her foot. In the other, Hill was accused of keying a girlfriend's car.

Finally, Axam showed the security camera video of the attack on Hill, using it to challenge her version of events, including her claim that West grabbed her before punching her _ which was not apparent in the video. Axam also claimed West was trying to hold the door open for Hill and her daughter after the door nearly hit the girl.