A former NFL player from Georgia is being accused of perpetuating a racial hoax reminiscent of the Jussie Smollett case after allegedly trashing his own restaurant and ice cream shop with racist graffiti, WGCL reported.
Police in suburban Atlanta last week arrested Edawn Coughman, 31, of Buford after they found the n-word, “monkey,” “MAGA” and swastikas scrawled on the walls and booths of his two businesses, Create & Bake Pizza and Coughman’s Creamery in Lawrenceville. He has since bonded out of jail.
Edawn Coughman is facing charges for allegedly faking hate crimes at his restaurant & ice cream shop in Atlanta. “MAGA,” n-word & “monkey” were sprayed in black inside the businesses. Police say they found Coughman w/black spray paint on his hands. https://t.co/SVCtKB4049 pic.twitter.com/atuEp4tdMH
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) September 15, 2019
Coughman allegedly staged a burglary of the two businesses and attempted to make it look like it was committed by racist Nazi Trump supporters.
Police said in a news release that an officer responded Wednesday night to a 911 call reporting a man damaging the restaurant and the ice cream shop and getting away in a truck without a license plate. The restaurant’s rear door showed signs of a break-in.
When officers pulled over the truck they found Coughman behind the wheel and learned he was the owner of the damaged businesses, according to the news release.
He was wearing a hoodie and gloves and his truck was full of newly unmounted flat screen televisions, according to police.
“The license plate was inside the truck. It also revealed that there were two cans of spray paint and also a yellow crowbar. The yellow crowbar is important because the back of the business had some yellow pry marks on the back door indicating that somebody had tried to use it to break into the back door,” said Cpl. Michele Pihera with the Gwinnett County police.
Coughman had called his insurance company about the alleged burglary earlier, but not the police.
“He said he was the victim of a burglary that occurred earlier in the day and that he was just coming back to the business to retrieve those items,” said Cpl. Michele Pihera with the Gwinnett County police.
However, the smell of fresh paint suggested to police that the burglary had not happened “earlier in the day” as Coughman had claimed, but in the past hour.
“If the burglary and vandalism had occurred earlier in the day like he told us, that paint would not still be wet,” Cpl. Pahera explained.
Police found broken mirrors, cut wires and a damaged surveillance system in addition to the racist graffiti.
Pahera said the entire thing was fake.
“This diminishes those cases where we have true victims of hate crimes, so we wanted to make sure that we got in front of this to explain to the community that this was not a hate crime,” Cpl. Pahera said. “We believe that Mr. Coughman is responsible for all of the vandalism inside the businesses.”
“We don’t know if he was trying to get attention for this. What we do know is, if that witness had not called us and if those officers had not responded as quickly as they did, we would probably be sitting here talking about a completely different crime in which Mr. Coughman would be trying to say he’s a victim,” Pahera told the Daily Post.
Back in January, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett claimed unconvincingly that he’d been jumped in Chicago by MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters who hollered racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with bleach, and put a noose around his neck.
It took until mid-February for Chicago PD to be able to conclude that Smollett had perpetuated the hoax on himself with the help of his two Nigerian pals. Smollett’s case took a little longer since he wasn’t literally caught in the act like Coughman was.
According to Fox News, Coughman has played with the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Redskins.
He was arrested on Thursday on charges of falsely reporting a burglary, insurance fraud and concealing a license plate, police said.