DES MOINES – A Des Moines woman smoked methamphetamine hours before intentionally hitting a 14-year-old central Iowa girl with her SUV this month, according to court documents.
Nicole Poole Franklin, 42, told police she targeted her victim because the girl "is Mexican." Clive Police Chief Michael Venema shared Franklin's admission at a news conference Friday morning.
She now faces an attempted murder charge and a number of other charges from a racially-charged incident that occurred 15 minutes later.
Community members are calling for Franklin, 42, to be charged with a hate crime because she admitted targeting the girl because of race. Authorities aren't ruling that out.
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Franklin was charged with attempted murder Friday after police linked her to the hit-and-run, police said. Her bond was set at $1 million.
Franklin admitted to police Thursday that she intentionally hit the girl because she was Hispanic, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
Venema said at Friday's news conference that there's no evidence at this time to indicate Franklin's decision to hit the girl was premeditated. But, he added, hate crime charges are being considered.
West Des Moines Community Schools superintendent Lisa Remy released a statement Friday that counselors, teachers and administrators are on hand to support all students today and in the months to come.
“As she continues to physically improve we understand the emotional impact of this incident will remain long after her body heals,” Remy said of the victim, who returned to school a week after the incident.
Venema said the police department extended support to the family, which was shocked to learn the incident was targeted.
"We spent a great deal of time with our victim's parents last night and made sure that they understood that their family had a support network in place," he said.
Less than an hour after the girl was struck, police at 5:15 p.m. were called to a Conoco gas station in West Des Moines for a woman creating a disturbance and using racial slurs, court records show.
Franklin was arrested and charged with assault, operating under the influence, theft and public intoxication, court records show. Hate charges are also being considered in this case, West Des Moines Police Sgt. Dan Wade said.
Kevin Reed, 53, said he was checking out at the gas station when he saw Franklin throwing potato chips, destroying merchandise and calling people names. He said Franklin appeared to be "on something."
Waheed Abdul, 57, co-owns the Conoco with his brother. He wasn't working the day of Franklin's arrest but said surveillance footage showed Franklin targeting his brother with racial slurs.
Abdul said the footage from Dec. 9 showed Franklin in the store for more than 20 minutes. He said she pocketed a container of ice cream and threw items from the counter at his brother, whom police said was not injured in the incident.
Some of the store's customers, including Reed, stayed with Abdul's brother until police arrived out of fear that Franklin would injure him, he said.
In February 2018, Franklin was charged with harassment and domestic abuse assault after she bit her boyfriend and threw something that struck him in the back of the neck, according to a criminal complaint. During the confrontation, Franklin picked up a butcher’s knife and repeatedly said she would kill her boyfriend, the complaint said.
Her boyfriend told police she was off her medicine, but Franklin told police that she was not in any mental state that needed medication.
"Shocked would be an understatement," Venema, the Clive police chief, said Friday of Franklin admitting to targeting the teen because of her race.
Joe Gonzalez, executive director of Latino Resources in Des Moines, said he's been contacted by people asking why a hate crime charge hasn't yet been filed.
Nationally, Latinos have experienced an increase in hate-motivated violent incidents, but prosecutions of hate crimes are rare in Iowa, FBI crime statistics show.
A California State University study released this fall by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism shows person-directed hate crimes rose to a 16-year high of 4,571 last year, accounting for 61% of all 2018 hate crimes.
For Latinos, those crimes have risen 13% over one year and 48% over five years, according to the analysis of FBI crime stats.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa woman hit teen with SUV because of ethnicity, police say