HARBOR CITY (CNS) -- The mother of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly attacked by a woman inside a McDonald's restaurant in Harbor City in a crime caught on cell phone video asked the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Thursday to reinstate a felony count that had been reduced to a misdemeanor.
In a statement, Angelina Gray said that she was appealing to District Attorney George Gascón, saying she remains "undeterred to get justice" for her daughter, Kassidy Jones.
"A misdemeanor charge sends a message that the lives and safety of young Black girls don't really matter to those in power," Gray said. "Kassidy is a 4.0 honor roll student who has suffered tremendous pain and is still undergoing tremendous trauma."
Ariana Lauifi, now 32, was initially charged Oct. 2 with a felony count of child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death, but the charge was reduced Monday to a misdemeanor at the request of the District Attorney's Office.
"The prosecutors in our Family Violence Division have unique training and experience in successfully prosecuting child abuse cases," according to a statement released Thursday by the District Attorney's Office. "The most senior members of the division carefully examined the evidence in this case, including previously unseen video footage of the assault, and determined that a felony was not the appropriate charge in this case. The disproportionate victimization of Black women and girls is something our office takes very seriously and to suggest otherwise is offensive."
She is suspected in the Sept. 6 attack on the teenager, who went into the restaurant in the 1700 block of Lomita Boulevard with friends when she was attacked, seemingly without provocation.
Police credited tips from the public for leading investigators to Lauifi. There was still no word on a possible motivation for the attack, which left Kassidy with facial bruises.
At the court hearing Monday, Lauifi was ordered not to have any contact with the teen. She is due back in a Long Beach courtroom Dec. 7 for a pretrial hearing.