HOMER CITY, Pa. — It's a video that's causing anger in an Indiana County community — a young man with intellectual and physical disabilities being punched by a group of people.
Police say the attack was unprovoked, and left Cody Overdorff with bruises on his head, chest and face.
"I think everyone's so upset because children with special needs, people with special needs they just want to be loved like everyone else and Cody, he is a very lovable young man," Dana Detwiler, Overdorff's mother, said.
Corey Blystone, Dakota Patterson, Jordan Kinney and Katelyn Lemley are now facing charges in the attack and are in jail at the request of investigators.
The Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said because Overdorff's injuries didn't rise to the level of serious bodily injury, more serious charges of aggravated assault can not be filed.
Dougherty said he talked with state lawmakers about adding victims with mental and physical disabilities as a protected class under the aggravated assault statue and adding crimes against those victims into the ethnic intimidation crime code.
Video of the attack was recorded, and shared online.
"It was hard to hear him cry out and nobody did anything," Alexandra Stantoine, a family friend said.
But with the suspects in custody, Overdorff's family and friends are hoping this attack will lead to change at the state level.
"There's actually a petition to make this a state law that it would be a hate crime automatically. And we want to protect all the other kids out there and not let this happen to anybody else," Detwiler said.
The DA is standing with the family and state Reps Jim Struzzi and Joe Pittman to try and change the law to include people with mental and physical disabilities under the Ethnic Intimidation section of the crimes code and making it discrimination intimidation.
The DA said, "(They) discussed including individuals with mental and physical disabilities as a protected class under the Aggravated Assault Statute. We have vowed to work together to protect those that are vulnerable to these senseless acts of violence in our community."
Overdorff's family and friends told 11 News he loves getting cards in the mail. Anyone who would like to send a card can send it to the following address:
In lieu of: Cody
P.O. Box 82
Homer City, Pennsylvania. 15748
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