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Lawyer: Hate crime claim against Florida doctor ‘not true’

MIAMI (AP) — Lawyers for a South Florida doctor accused of attacking a Hispanic man at a supermarket say the allegation that she committed a hate crime is “simply not true.”

Dr. Jennifer Susan Wright, 58, was arrested Friday outside her Miami Springs home on charges of criminal mischief, tampering with a victim and battery with prejudice, a hate crime enhancement that upgraded the charge to a felony.

Wright became enraged after the man asked her in Spanish to keep her distance because of COVID-19 guidelines while waiting in line Jan. 20 at a supermarket in Hialeah, a heavily Hispanic suburb of Miami, the Miami Herald reported.

Wright ignored the man, so he repeated it in English. She responded by “mumbling bad words,” the newspaper said, citing an arrest report. Wright then walked up to him in the parking lot and he asked her to back up. Then she hurled racial and other insults at him.

According to the arrest report, Wright then proceeded “to stab the victim’s vehicle with her keys while saying he needed to go back to his country” and punched and kicked the man. Officials said the attack took place the day President Joe Biden took office.

The legal team for Wright, an anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, released a statement Monday.

“We look forward to discrediting this ugly attack against our client that is filled with lies and twisted information to fit someone else’s political agenda,” Coral Gables attorney Carlos F. Gonzalez said in the statement.

Also on Monday, Mount Sinai announced that Wright, who was contracted to work there, “is no longer responsible for patient care” at the Miami Beach hospital.

“Our top priority is the safety of our patients, visitors, and employees. Law enforcement and other appropriate authorities have our full cooperation in this matter,” President and CEO Gino Santorio said in a statement released Monday.

The hospital’s statement said details of the arrest “are unacceptable and counter to the culture we foster and the mission that guides us. Since our inception, we have remained dedicated proponents of ensuring equality for all, regardless of our differences, including race, religion, nationality, creed, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.”

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