Despite questions, Lewis & Clark student maintains attack happened

The victim explains why he doesn't want to prosecute

Lewis and Clark campus, file. (KOIN)
Lewis and Clark campus, file. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “I have been in this country two months and this happens,” Tanguy Muvuna told KOIN 6 News. “It has all been so much.”

Muvuna is referring to the attack he says happened on the night of November 21 on the campus of Lewis and Clark College. Three white men approached him, called him the N-word, punched and kicked him, and forced him to drink a liquid that he could only identify as “sweet.”

The attack came days after threatening and racist posts targeting the school were posted on Yik Yak, a social media tool that allows posters to remain anonymous.

“I told the police what happened,” he said. “I also told them that I do not want to go further with this. I want to move on.”

Lewis and Clark campus, file. (KOIN)
Lewis and Clark campus, file. (KOIN)

That decision has led to questions whether the attack ever happened, something Muvuna, who is here from Rwanda on a scholarship, said “makes me sad.

“I want to move on, to continue with my studies but that makes people upset because they want me to be a symbol. I want to be a student.”

The police reports from the incident state the investigation is “inactive/suspended” because of a “lack of tangible leads.”

The reports indicate that officers were unable to find evidence of a crime scene, that Muvuna did not complain of “pain or discomfort,” and that the officer “made no observation of injury.”

The officer also noted that Muvuna refused medical attention despite a concern that, based on his description of events, might have been poisoned. Muvuna also spoke with an emergency room doctor from OHSU and still refused to go to be checked out.

“It was over,” he says. “I felt OK. I wanted it to be over.”

The protest at Lewis and Clark College, November 18 2015. (KOIN)
The protest at Lewis and Clark College, November 18 2015. (KOIN)

The police reports obtained by KOIN 6 News include an anonymous email from someone who stated they “can’t get involved” and “won’t respond to any emails.”

The writer accused Muvuna of having “fabricated the attack to increase his public profile” and is “trying to leverage the attack to get his grades adjusted , claiming the stress of the attacks is hurting his ability to study.”

The writer of the email, who questions Muvuna’s honesty, presents some items as fact  even though they are contradicted by what’s in the police reports..

It accuses Muvuna of changing the timeline on the attack, which police say is not the case. It also states Muvuna’s “clothes weren’t dirty” when the police report indicates that they were.

“I feel that the person who sent that email is one of the people who have been putting pressure on me to do more,” Muvuna told KOIN 6 News. “There are many people who tell me I should do more to make these people get justice.

“But I have made my decision to forgive those who attacked me.”

Muvuna knows about forgiveness and the importance of moving forward.

He arrived at Lewis and Clark from Rwanda where he started a student human rights association and volunteered for the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide.

“I feel those pressuring me want from me things that I cannot give them,” he says.  “They do not understand why I do not want to do more.”

Muvuna said the answer to that is actually very simple.

“This is not my country,” he said. “I am a stranger here, without family, without support. These people that attacked me, they are from here. They have family here. They know how the system works.

“I am alone here. There are people I am friends with but I do not know the courts,  I do not know the system.  I need to be a student.”

Muvuna asks to imagine if the situation were reversed.

“Think what would you do if you were in my country,” he asked. “Think if you were  in my country and you were attacked. You are alone there, you do not have family. You are attacked but are okay. Would you want go through the courts that you do not know?

“Or would you want to move forward with your life?”

Muvuna says that he has been  consistent with the police: he believes he knows who at least two of his attackers are but will not identify them.

That’s backed up in the police reports. One of the investigating officers writes that Muvuna “repeatedly expressed reluctance in pursuing criminal prosecution.”

Portland police point out the case is inactive not closed; that if Muvuna were to change his mind, they would be there to listen and investigate.

Muvuna, for his part, said that will not happen.

“This is over,” he told KOIN 6. “I am here to learn. I am moving ahead.”

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