As his stepson remains in a medically induced coma following a vicious parking lot beating, Barry Reynolds told TheBlaze doctors have said there’s a “possibility” he may be forced to live out his days in a vegetative state. That’s why, he said, it’s frustrating to read news reports indicating that his stepson is in “fair condition,” because the surgeon maintains his situation is still “critical.”
Reynolds also alleged that the media would be much more interested in getting to the truth of the story if the races were switched.
Ralph Weems IV, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran, was savagely beaten outside of a Huddle House in West Point, Mississippi, following some sort of altercation with a group of black men who had “gotten themselves into a frenzy” over the Ferguson shooting, Reynolds said.
Reynolds, who said he has raised Weems since he was only 8 years old, recounted the moments leading up to the brutal assault in an attempt to clear up what he described as unfounded speculation circulating on the Internet.
He said Weems had helped his friend, David Knighten, unload his U-Haul before they went to a Waffle House restaurant to eat. As they walked into the establishment, a black man told Knighten just outside that the restaurant wasn’t a safe place for whites because the people inside were angry over the Michael Brown shooting, according to Reynolds and past statements made by Knighten.
Reynolds, also a former Marine, said Weems continued into the restaurant ahead of his friend, possibly believing the man was a panhandler asking for money. As soon as he entered the Waffle House, he “started getting jeered,” the stepfather said. What is still unknown is how Weems responded to the alleged jeering.
“He’s a former Marine,” Reynolds told TheBlaze. “If they said ‘F you,’ I really wouldn’t be surprised if he said ‘F you’ right back. But we really don’t know what was said at that point.”
The police were eventually called after some sort of argument and Weems and Reynolds were asked to leave the restaurant for safety reasons, he continued. The friends drove down the road to a nearly empty Huddle House. Reynolds said he believes when Weems went outside to smoke a cigarette, he was jumped by a group of black men. Though some reports estimated 20 men had followed them, the stepdad said surveillance video shows about five or six men attacking Weems.
Knighten claimed he heard “racial slurs being yelled from the crowd” as they attacked Weems. Reynolds said eyewitness accounts support that claim.
“He never even lit his cigarette,” Reynolds said. “He was jumped and knocked out almost immediately. He was defenseless and they literally kicked his head in.”
The attackers didn’t disperse until they heard the sound of police sirens approaching, he added. Police found Weems unconscious in the parking lot with severe head injuries. Knighten also reportedly suffered “minor fractures and lacerations” when he tried to defend Weems.
Weems was airlifted and ultimately placed in a medically induced coma. Doctors also removed a sizable portion of his skull to relieve some of the brain swelling, Reynolds told TheBlaze.
“His vital signs are strong, so the chances of him dying are pretty slim,” he said. “But we don’t know what value or quality of life he will have.”
‘One Painful Truth’
Though Weems’ story has received some national attention, Reynolds said “one painful truth” about news coverage in the U.S. is black-on-white violence doesn’t receive the same amount of coverage as white-on-black violence.
“This story would be everywhere if you just take it and flip it 180 degrees. The same story, word for word, except change the colors around,” he told TheBlaze.
The tragic situation has understandably taken a toll of the family.
“Ralph is my hero,” Reynolds said. “And to see the worry that his mother went through when he was in Iraq, and for him to come home and have his life ruined in the town he was raised in — it’s almost unreal.”
He also said the media shares some blame in aggravating racial tensions in the U.S. with the way it has covered the controversial Ferguson shooting. Rather than waiting for all the facts to emerge, the media have allowed speculation and statements made by unreliable witnesses to give birth to racial animosity.
Reynolds said it’s very unlikely Weems said anything racial in nature, especially while he was surrounded by black people at the Waffle House. However, the stepdad said he would be “very disappointed” if that turned out to be the case.
Regardless, the fact that Weems was followed from the Waffle House to the Huddle House shows it was a “premeditated” attack, the stepfather added.
So far, police have arrested one suspect in the assault. Police are currently reviewing additional surveillance footage in hopes of arresting the remaining suspects.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said it will be up to the Grand Jury to decide if a hate crime was committed. Attempts to contact Brinkley for up-to-date information on the case were unsuccessful. We were told to call back on Thursday.