“Jussie Smollett, the Sequel” was stopped by police in Georgia last week before the plot ever reached the big screen. Former NFL player Edawn Coughman was arrested for staging a hate crime in a half-baked scheme that involved trashing his own restaurants for insurance money.
“It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics,” a Gwinnett County police statement said.
Police were tipped off by a witness reporting a break-in and burglary-in-progress at Create and Bake Restaurant and Coughman’s Creamery in Lawrenceville at 9:30pm Wednesday. When police responded, they found damage to seating, mirrors, the surveillance system, and missing televisions.
The walls were covered with a spray-painted swastika, the “N” word, “monkey,” and “MAGA.”
“The smell of spray paint was very fresh. When officers touched it, the paint appeared wet,” according to the police statement.
The witness who called 911 reported, “that the suspect was driving a black Chevrolet Silverado with no license plate.”
In a scene worthy of a comedic flop, police immediately stopped the vehicle as it was leaving the shopping center.
“The officers made contact with the driver, Edawn Louis Coughman,” according to the official statement, which continued …
“The officers noticed several televisions in the bed of the truck and inside the cab. The TVs were still attached to the brackets with damaged drywall.
Officers learned that Edawn was the owner of the businesses. The back door to one of the businesses had yellow pry marks. When officers went inside the business, they saw several graffiti words and symbols on the walls and booth cushions in black spray paint. Officers saw racially-motivated words, swastikas, and “MAGA.” Several booth cushions were sliced open. They also found broken mirrors, cut wires, and a damaged video surveillance system. The smell of spray paint was very fresh. When officers touched it, the paint appeared wet.
Edawn told officers that he noticed the damage and theft of equipment earlier in the day. He said that he called his insurance company to report the incident, but he did not call 911.
After doing more research into the incident, officers and the lead detective learned that the damage to the interior of the business did not occur earlier in the day like he stated. Edawn was arrested, and the truck was impounded to Gwinnett County Police Headquarters for processing.
“When the officers pulled him over, he was wearing gloves and a hoodie which is kind of suspicious since we’ve had one of the hottest weeks in September,” said Gwinnett County Police Corporal Michele Pihera in a press conference.
“While executing the search warrant,” she added, “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 there were yellow pry marks on the back door.”
According to police, all the evidence points to the hate crime and burglary being staged.
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
“This diminishes those cases where we have true victims of hate crimes,” said Pihera. “We wanted to make sure that we got in front of this to explain to the community that this was not a hate crime. We believe that Mr. Coughman is responsible for all of the vandalism at his businesses.”
Coughman, who had a journeyman four-year career in the NFL, has been charged with false report of a crime, insurance fraud, and concealing a license plate.
Watch a local news report on the incident …
Video by CBS 46
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