A white man in Buffalo, NY is facing felony charges and a possible hate crime after he was caught on video pulling a gun out on a black Muslim woman following a traffic accident.
62-year-old Jeffrey Calhoun was charged with attempted robbery in the first degree, menacing in the second degree and harassment in the second degree after he turned a minor traffic incident into a violent and racist encounter, WBFO reports. Cell phone footage shows Calhoun refusing to let go of victim Jeanneie Muhammad’s handbag after she attempted to retrieve her insurance information.
“While he was sitting in the car, he looked at me and said, you n***er, ‘You probably didn’t even have insurance,’ and I said, ‘Oh be quiet,’ ” recalled Muhammad. “So we’re going back (and forth) like this the police officer said, ‘Ma’am you can’t have this exchange.’ And he walked me down the street.”
“When I went to go reach over and get my insurance out of the glove compartment, that’s when he reached into the car, snatched my keys out of the ignition, and said that ‘I think that you’re going to try to run,’” said Muhammad to media assembled Wednesday.
The video shows onlookers trying to help as Calhoun holds onto Muhammad. She hits him, and seconds later, he is seen pulling out a gun. Calhoun’s refusal to let go of Muhammad’s property is likely what led to his robbery charge following his arrest. But local African-American leaders are demanding for the suspect to also be charged with a hate crime.
“I would like for the DA to make this a precedent also,” explained Muhammad. “I would like for it to stop here. Because nobody knows when it’s going to be them next. I never thought it would be me. I never thought someone would point a gun to me and tell me don’t move, don’t run.”
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says he’s taking the hate crime allegations seriously and investigating whether the incident meets the requirements needed to classify it as such.
“There’s video out there which is good for me in the sense that I have a visual video to ask what happened at a certain period of time,” Flynn said. “So I review the video, I’m getting statements. I’m talking to the officers. I’m talking to the people that were there to get a full picture.”
“When I saw the video, my gut reaction as a human being was, ‘really dude, you’re going to pull a gun out?”
“I can ensure the victim, her husband and the community that I will prosecute this manner to the fullest extent with the evidence that I have, that I can prove in the court of law,” he vowed.
Calhoun is being held on a $75,000 property bond.