Call to dispatchers details hate crime against biracial woman whose face was set on fire
NBC15 News has obtained an audio file of the phone call between Dane County Dispatch and Althea Bernstein, the woman whose face was doused in lighter fluid and then set on fire by a group of white men.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – NBC15 News has obtained an audio file of the phone call between Dane County Dispatch and Althea Bernstein, the woman whose face was doused in lighter fluid and then set on fire by a group of white men.
NBC15 News obtained the call via a Freedom of Information Act request. All of Bernstein’s personal information has been redacted from the 3:36-minute long call, but the victim in the call describes an incident exactly like what happened to Bernstein on June 24 in downtown Madison.
During the call, Bernstein told the dispatcher that she had just been released from UW Hospital’s ER after “someone had tried to set me on fire downtown.”
Bernstein recounted that she had been crossing State Street in her car on the way to University Avenue, but that she had trouble remembering exactly the cross streets.
When the dispatcher inquired about what happened, Bernstein, who is biracial, said that she was driving in her car “when I heard a group of people yell the N-word, and then I turned my head – they threw lighter fluid at me and then threw a match or lighter at me,” according to the call.
The dispatcher said that an officer or detective with the Madison Police Department would get into contact with her within the next couple days.
As NBC15 News reported extensively at the time, the Madison Police Department launched a hate crime investigation into the incident. Police later revealed it was four white man who attacked Bernstein.
According to police, Bernstein told police she drove off, batting down the flames as she went. After getting home, her mother reportedly encouraged her to go to the hospital, where she was treated for burns.
The Madison Police Department has not identified any of the suspects in the attack. Anyone with information about it is asked to contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of suspects.