Man Beaten, Run Over in Fatal Toronto Gay Bashing

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday October 21, 2009

A gay man was knocked to the ground and run over by SUV-driving assailants in Toronto; he later died in the hospital.

An Oct. 19 article at Xtra.com (updated on Oct. 20) said that Chris Skinner, 27, had a confrontation with several men in downtown Toronto after having been out with his sister and with his fiancée, Ryan Cooke.

Skinner had become separated from Cooke when he encountered the men around 3 a.m. on Oct. 18.

Hours later, after having posted a Facebook message asking whether anyone know of Skinner's whereabouts, Cooke learned of his life partner's death.

The assailants evidently steered their vehicle deliberately over Skinner after having knocked him down. The vehicle, described as a black SUV, then sped away.

The article said that several people witnessed the attack and the vehicular assault. There was no clear-cut evidence to peg the killing as a hate crime.

"No, there's not at all any indication that there were homophobic elements to the attack," the article quoted Detective Stacey Gallant as saying.

But the ferocity of the assault is consistent with the "overkill" that is often part of anti-gay bias crimes. Moreover, the article noted, those who knew Skinner expressed doubts that he would have started anything--but they did think he would have stood his ground if challenged.

"Not a single person who knows him would say that he would cause a ruckus, but he would stand up for himself if he was called on anything," Craig Lund, a friend of Skinner's, was quoted as saying. Lund also expressed skepticism with respect to the local authorities, saying, "I find that Toronto Police very rarely jump to the conclusion that homophobia exists."

Skinner was a graphic designer, but he had plans to attend law school. His mother called on the unknown assailants for words of contrition for having murdered her son, an Oct. 21 article in The Globe and Mail reported.

Mrs. Skinner, who made her comment to CTV on Oct. 20, was quoted as saying, "It won't help, but I have to know that they're sorry."

Skinner and Cooke had planned to wed in 2010.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.