A Louisiana pediatrician was arrested Wednesday and charged with punching and verbally assaulting a Southern University student while she was walking near the LSU Lakes, authorities said.
The pediatrician, identified by police as Shane McKinney, 54, was charged with simple battery, Baton Rouge police said. McKinney is a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital in Baton Rouge.
Ryan Cross, a spokesman for the hospital system, said Thursday that McKinney had been placed on unpaid leave pending an investigation.
"We take the allegations placed against one of our physicians seriously and understand their gravity," the hospital system said in a statement.
A Baton Rouge police spokesman, Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr., said the student, 22, a Black woman who is on Southern University's track team, was walking along the lakes near the Louisiana State University campus Monday at about 6:55 p.m. when a man punched her in the chest and verbally assaulted her.
"The suspect quickly ran away from the area after the incident occurred," McKneely said in a statement this week that was accompanied by an image of the suspect.
Southern University's athletic director, Roman Banks, said Tuesday that the school believes the incident was racially motivated. Southern is a historically Black university.
McKneely said Thursday that the student told police that her attacker hurled racial slurs at her but that police did not have enough evidence to prove that the incident was racially motivated.
The university's deputy athletic director, Trayvean Scott, said in an interview Thursday that the school stands by its earlier statement based on the accounts of the student and a witness, both of whom he declined to identify.
McKinney was released on his own recognizance late Wednesday, an East Baton Rouge Parish Prison official said. It is not clear whether he has an attorney. He did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.