A 57-year-old man allegedly attacked an autistic teenager running a cross-country race in Rochester, New York, thinking the high schooler was going to mug his wife. The boy's mother, who has been unable to press charges, calls the incident another example of police favoritism and racial bias.
Chase Coleman, 15, who is autistic nonverbal, has been part of the Corcoran High School cross-country team for two years, according to The Washington Post. He often gets lost or confused during the race, so his mother, Clarise, is sure to scout the course ahead of time in case her son doesn't cross the finish line.
On Oct. 14, her worst fears were realized when, during a part of the race when runners were going down a hill, Chase was nowhere to be found. His mother immediately felt something was wrong and left the sidelines to go looking for him.
"I started walking that direction, and I’m screaming his name out: ‘Keep going, Chase!'” she said to the Post. "And a young lady came up to me and said, 'Are you looking for one of your runners?' … She said, 'Some man just assaulted him.'"
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the witness saw a middle-aged man exit his car and push Chase to the ground, yelling "Get out of here."
A police officer was subsequently dispatched to the area and questioned the suspect, later identified as Martin MacDonald, on the incident.
"I see a grown man, who is quite tall and fairly heavy … exit the vehicle and give this young man a shove that puts him back 10 feet and flat on his butt," said the witness.
The police report states that MacDonald's car was recently broken into and when Chase didn't respond to his requests to get out of the middle of the road, he became worried that he would try and steal his wife's purse. His wife was in the passenger seat of the vehicle at the time.
His mother's attempts to press charges for second-degree harassment were denied, according to CNY Central. She believes that racial bias is involved and that the police is purposefully favoring the white middle aged man over her black, autistic teenage son.
"They are treating him like a third class citizen. He has the double whammy, he's black and has a disability. So it's not important, that's what Rochester is telling me," she told CNY Central.
Susan Boyle from the Syracuse Common Council has contacted Rochester District Attorney Sandra Doorley, questioning the decision to deny the warrant and leave the assault unpunished.
"To be lost due to a racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on an African American minor with absolutely no consequences is, for lack of a stronger word, unacceptable," she writes.
Chase, traumatized by the event, has since quit the cross-country team telling his mother "no more practice."