PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon prosecutor says bias motivated a man to deliberately ram his car into an Afghan man who had served as a U.S. military interpreter, severely injuring him. The FBI said Tuesday it is looking into the case.
Lincoln County Deputy District Attorney R. Lynn Howard made the assertion in court papers filed Monday. She is seeking a tougher punishment if Perry Nicolopoulos of Puyallup, Washington, is convicted of attempted murder, drunken driving and other charges included in a 16-count indictment.
Lincoln City Police Lt. Jerry Palmer said last week there no was evidence of a bias crime. Neither he nor Howard returned calls Tuesday explaining what new information emerged. The defendant's court-appointed attorney, Mitchell Martin, also didn't return a phone message.
Mohammed Fawad Mohammadi was visiting the Oregon coast on March 6 when he was struck and pinned by a vehicle in a drug store parking lot. Witnesses told police that an older man driving a gray car struck Mohammadi's Toyota Prius three times before driving away.
Mohammadi had gotten out of his car after the initial collision, and was pinned against his own door during the second crash, police said. He was flown to a Portland hospital, where part of his leg had to be amputated.
The force of the collisions left the license plate of the gray car embedded in the Prius, police said.
Nicolopoulos remains in the Lincoln County Jail on $1 million bail. He has yet to enter a plea and his next court date is April 30.
The FBI has contacted local officials and is assessing the facts of the case, said Jennifer Adams of the FBI office in Portland.
Other sentencing enhancements sought by Howard include use of a weapon, causing permanent injury, and harm or loss greater than typical.
Nicolopoulos has had numerous run-ins with the law in Washington state, including a case in which he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in 2001 and another in which he pleaded guilty to malicious mischief in 1996.
AP reporter Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.