A well-respected doctor's tweet about how his adult daughter and her boyfriend were attacked by a "group of BLM" went viral.
While his distressed tweet elicited sympathy from social media users, the attack allegedly involving Black Lives Matter protesters he claimed to have happened turned out to be false.
According to his Twitter bio, Andrea Natale is the executive medical director at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center in Austin.
The Italian-born doctor wrote on Sunday:
"My daughter called in tears. She was driving [with] her boyfriend in Baltimore & their car was attacked by a group of BLM. It was damaged & her BF was beaten."
"She filmed it & called the police but they cannot do anything [because] they are African American. Is this the America we want?"
Buzzfeed News obtained the police bodycam footage of the doctor's daughter and her boyfriend explaining to the officer about their assault in Baltimore.
But contrary to what Natale tweeted, the incident did not involve a group of Black Lives Matter protesters.
Instead, the alleged assault involved "squeegee boys"—which refers to a group of young men who try to earn money by offering to wipe the windshields of passing motorists at intersections.
Although the couple did appear shaken, their account of the incident did not exactly line up with the doctor's version of the story in his viral tweet.
The boyfriend confirmed that there was no fight, but he did warn the boys he had a weapon.
"Three guys surrounded me and I said 'stop.' I will defend myself. I do have a knife on me.' And the other guy pulled his knife and was like, 'I got a f'ng knife too.'"
🤣🤣 so the boyfriend says he jumps out of the car and tells the kids he has a knife, the kids say they have a knife… https://t.co/70NJB0NNyJ— StevieSTILLSaid (@StevieSTILLSaid)1600234086.0
The boyfriend explained he did not know what the three men "surrounding" him were trying to do.
"They looked like they were gonna fight but I guess I scared them off."
"There wasn't any physical touching on me or them."
Natale's daughter added:
"They just gang up on you and they get very aggressive if you politely say 'please don't wash my car.'"
The couple's vehicle did sustain damage with a broken side mirror as a result of some other squeegee boys throwing "rocks or coins."
There was another detail that was misleading from the doctor's tweet.
The officer never told the couple that the police "cannot do anything" because the assailants were African American.
What the officer did impart was:
"To be honest, the city doesn't want us to engage with squeegee boys. And we've got our hands tied."
Buzzfeed did explain that squeegee kids have been present in Baltimore for 30 years and that one 21-year old recently resorted to squeegeeing windows to earn money after losing his restaurant job due to the pandemic.
While there have been incidents in the city linked to violent encounters with the group, legislative steps to crack down on the practice with low-income kids have been met with challenges and setbacks.
In the meantime, officials are trying to mitigate the issue by getting them off the streets through social programs.
When the bodycam footage with his daughter was made available, Natale removed his deceptive tweet and posted an apology in which he admitted to "jumping to a conclusion."
He also expressed regret that his words got "misinterpreted."
"I sincerely apologize for a tweet I posted this weekend. I was worried about my daughter, and I jumped to a conclusion based on the information I had at the time."
"I've dedicated my entire professional career to healing people from all backgrounds, and I regret that my words were misinterpreted and created hurt and pain. It was not my intention."
However, people thought his apology lacked sincerity.
@jemillerwbal Hey Andrea Natale, M.D.: your words weren’t “misinterpreted” - you said your daughter was attacked by… https://t.co/7Bb2w5spHG— Amy Trask (@Amy Trask)1600202987.0
This is not an apology. "My words were misinterpreted" is the opposite of an apology. A sincere apology doesn't try… https://t.co/PyjTzlOFrR— C (she/her) #BlackLivesMatter (@C (she/her) #BlackLivesMatter)1600221194.0
@stdavidsmedctr Dr. Andrea Natale is a racist and needs to be investigated. https://t.co/zSONSpKuJk— Nikki Windsor🖤 (@Nikki Windsor🖤)1600170580.0
@tcainstitute @andreanatalemd @JICE_EP FIRE ANDREA NATALE. He's a racist propagandizing against BLM. #blm— Ted Denningston (@Ted Denningston)1600144771.0
Some expressed there should be dire consequences for the doctor.
Dr. Andrea Natale may have deleted his account but he should still lose his position as Executive Medical Director… https://t.co/Dz7CMAinYb— Ioneenknoyo (@Ioneenknoyo)1600201476.0
The responding officer told the couple that while the damage to their side mirror could constitute destruction of property, he could not arrest anyone because he himself did not witness the misdemeanor offense.
When he was subsequently asked what the couple could do about the situation, he advised them to "complain with City Hall."