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St. Louis Bosnian woman who claimed hate crime is charged with making false report

St. Louis Bosnian woman who claimed hate crime is charged with making false report


ST. LOUIS • A Bosnian immigrant has been charged with making a false police report after claiming three black teenagers threatened to kill her in the Bevo Mill neighborhood because of her ethnicity.

Police said Monday that a surveillance video from a nearby business shows Seherzada Dzanic, 26, of the 4400 block of Gannett Street, just get out of her car and lie in the street shortly before a passing driver found her Dec. 5.

At the time, Dzanic told police three black men in their late teens to early 20s had walked in front of her vehicle about 5:25 a.m. along the 4600 block of Lansdowne Avenue. She said one of them pulled a gun on her when she tried to pass them, then opened her passenger door and went through her purse.

She also told police that one of the men pushed her to the ground, kicked her and had asked where she was from. She said she told them she was European.

“You’re a (expletive) liar. You’re Bosnian. I should just kill you now,” she claimed they told her, according to an account at the time by St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.

She claimed she lost consciousness but refused medical treatment at the scene, police said.

The report had heightened tension among St. Louis Bosnians, already rocked by the killing of an immigrant by attackers using a hammer five days earlier.

City police detectives found the video that disputed Dzanic’s story, according to court documents. In the pictures, she is seen driving along the street in the opposite direction that she told police, then doing a U-turn, stopping, getting out and lying on the street until the passing motorist finds her, according to a police source.

According to court documents, Dzanic said she made up the story because she was suffering from “emotional issues.”

Filing a false police report is a misdemeanor. She was booked and released pending application for a warrant.

Dotson said, “It doesn’t help the current climate when people use race as the basis to report crime; it further divides our community.” He added, “It’s important to send a strong message that when people manipulate the system, there are consequences.”

Assistant Circuit Attorney Ed Postawko agreed, saying, “That was a good seven to 10 days that could have been spent investigating real crimes.”

Meanwhile, St. Louis County police are investigating a report from a Bosnian woman, 34, that two black men tried to rob her and called her a “(expletive) Bosnian (expletive)” about 10 p.m. Sunday along the 3900 block of Lemay Ferry Road in South County. She told police she tossed them her wallet before one of them punched her in the stomach.

Officer Shawn McGuire said the woman said one of the men threw her wallet back before running off.

McGuire said police are not labeling that incident a hate crime yet because it’s not clear the men knew she was Bosnian when they approached. He said officers found no video of that incident.

Dzanic’s report occurred in the same week that a group of black and Hispanic teens beat Zemir Begic, a Bosnian, to death with a hammer Nov. 30 near Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street.

Police said they have no evidence to show that Begic was targeted because of his ethnicity, although many in the community believe that he was.

Robert Joseph Mitchell, 17, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Begic’s death. Three other suspects, one 15 and two 16, are in custody, and authorities are seeking to have them certified as adults in the crime.

Dotson said the victim and his killers “exchanged words,” before the murder. The chief would not elaborate except to say the exchange did not include references to Begic’s Bosnian heritage.

Joel Currier of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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