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Salem Man Arrested After Fight Involving Racial Slang
Updated July 7, 2013 8:51 AM | Filed under: Crime
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nigel turner.jpg

(SALEM) - A man was critically injured on June 29 after a dispute outside of Silmo's Saloon in Salem.

Police arrested 24-year-old Nigel Turner, of Salem on charges of battery causing serious bodily injury.

Police says Sam Cornett was taken to the University of Louisville Hospital after he suffered bleeding on the brain and multiple facial fractures.

According to the Leader Democrat, police received a 911 call reporting the fight and a man down and not breathing. They found Cornett, lying on the sidewalk bleeding. He was flown by helicopter to the hospital where he remains.

Police say according to witnesses Cornett and Turner had a verbal argument and that Cornett referred to Turner by a racial slur and Turner allegedly punched him in response to the name calling.

Witnesses says Turner then ran down the alley between Brick Street Sampler and the Salem Police Department.

Turner called the Salem Police Department at 12:55 a.m. Officer Chris Cauble took the call and asked Turner if he could come to the department. Turner said he did not have transportation. Cauble said he would give him a ride.

Turner told police that just before the fight, he and his girlfriend had just rented some movies and were walking past Slimo's when a man called him the n-word. Turner told Cauble he initially walked on, but then decided the man owed him an apology, so he went back. When Turner spoke to Cornett, he told police Cornett "smarted off to him" and tried to shake his hand. Turner refused that gesture, the two exchanged words, and Turner told police he punched Cornett. He said he ran off because four or five people were chasing him.

Turner's girlfriend confirmed that Cornett used the racial slur. She said when Turner confronted Cornett asking, "What did you say?" he responded "I said what I said, it was for fun." She confirmed that Turner punched Cornett.

Turner had his initial court appearance before Judge Larry Medlock in Washington Circuit Court Monday afternoon. His bond is set at $5,000 full cash, $20,000 surety or $40,000 property.

But Cornett's family gave police a different story saying the fight was not racially motivated.

Cornett's daughter claims her father never said the n-word.

Monday afternoon, Hollen provided a written voluntary statement to the Salem Police Department, telling what she saw and heard.

She told police that she, her father and some other friends and relatives were outside of the tavern talking when Turner walked by and gave her dad "the meanest look I've ever seen."

She told police her father said "What is your deal, man?" At that point, according to Hollen, Turner walked away with a female. About 10 minutes later, they returned and Turner "looked at my dad like he was the devil himself" and threatened to kill her father.

Concerned that her dad was about to be attacked, Hollen told her husband what she had heard. Cornett then approached Turner, extended his hand, and said, "Hey, man how are ya'?" she wrote. Turner responded that he wasn't shaking his hand and then hit her father.

She alleges Turner was wearing brass knuckles and the impact of the punch fractured bones in her father's face. Hollen told police she ran after Turner following the attack. She fell at the curb and returned to help her father.

According to Hollen her father suffered a broken rib, fractured collarbone and a brain bleed. Hollen said her father, who remains hospitalized in University of Louisville Hospital underwent facial surgery Friday.

Police Chief Troy Merry has forwarded all witness statements to Prosecutor Dustin Houchin.

Merry says it is unclear if Turner had brass knuckles and none were recovered at the scene.

Police have not been able to interview Cornett because of his condition.

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