Attack on transgender woman in downtown Denver under investigation
"If you can't accept someone for who they are or what they are, then turn and walk away," the woman, Amber Nicole said. "There's no need to hurt people."
By Suzanne Ciechalski and Phil McCausland
A transgender woman said she was assaulted in downtown Denver last week by two men who targeted her because of her identity. The Denver Police Department is investigating the attack.
Amber Nicole, 23, said she had gone out to enjoy Denver's nightlife and drink and dance with friends last Saturday, when she was assaulted outside her friend's car after leaving a downtown bar.
Just before the attack, two men had followed behind her and her friend and started to harass them, so Nicole started to take a video, she said.
"We felt like these two men were going to attack us," she said. "I'm pretty much giving warning in this video that if anything does happen to me, I was attacked by these two men."
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Nicole said she walked away to get help, but her friend soon found her later with her hands on her face, begging two men to stop hitting her.
A Denver Police Department report said that an unidentified male suspect struck "the victim three (3) times in the face with a closed fist causing a suspected broken jaw."
Witnesses around her friend's car who saw Nicole's injuries encouraged her to call the police.
"We're still investigating it as a normal assault, but our bias-motivated crime unit is involved in the investigation," Carlos Montoya, public information officer for the Denver Police Department, told NBC News.
Nicole said she woke up the next morning with her jaw resting on her neck because it had been dislocated. It had also been broken in three different places, requiring it to be wired shut, she said.
Blood vessels burst in her left eye, Nicole said, adding that doctors told her she may not recover from the nerve damage on the right side of her face.
Nicole spoke out against attacks on trans people like here.
"If you can't accept someone for who they are or what they are, then turn and walk away," she said. "There's no need to hurt people."
Her mother also spoke out, telling NBC News that people should come to the aid of others under attack.
"People should step in," Juliann Martinez said. "Don't be afraid. We're afraid too. We're afraid that every time we let our daughters go out we have to worry."
Suzanne Ciechalski is a New York-based reporter for NBC News' Social Newsgathering team.
Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on rural issues and the social safety net.