A Driving While Black incident led to a criminal case in Washington D.C. this week. An African-American driver was allegedly struck with a metal bike lock in his head and repeatedly called the n-Word by a bicyclist on Monday (Aug. 6).
Police have opened a hate crime investigation after motorist Ketchazo Paho was physically hit with the object by Maxim Regan Smith, 24, during a verbal altercation in D.C. neighborhood Georgetown, local news source WJLA reported. Smith, who is white and was riding a bike, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor destruction of property.
Paho could have been killed. He needed 18 stitches and was still in severe pain as of Tuesday night.
The incident quickly turned into a physical altercation: Smith hit Paho’s car trunk with an object on the street. Paho then stopped his car and said that he would call police to report the damage to his vehicle. As Smith tried to pedal away from the scene, Paho grabbed his bike, police said. Smith later repeatedly referred to Paho as the n-word and then struck the driver in the head with the bike U-lock.
Smith was taken into police custody immediately after the assault and was ordered to remain jailed until a hearing on Thursday (Aug. 9), The Washington Post reported. The decision about whether there is enough evidence to charge Smith with a hate crime will be decided by prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office.
The incident comes after a rise in hate crimes in major metropolitan cities, with a 12.5 percent increase in incidents reported by police last year. Ten cities — Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and San Jose, California — have seen major hate crime activity, according to The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.