A Sikh American Uber driver from Washington state was physically assaulted on the job last week by a passenger who made “racially biased” comments about the driver’s religion and ethnicity, police said.
Whatcom County’s prosecutor filed a hate crime charge against the suspect, 22-year-old Grifin Levi Sayers, on Monday, Bellingham Police Department’s Lt. Claudia Murphy told HuffPost. Sayers, who was released on bail Friday, was already facing an assault charge for the alleged Dec. 5 attack.
“This crime is being investigated as a bias incident as Sayers maliciously and intentionally assaulted the victim because of Sayers’ perception of the victim’s race, national origin and religion,” Murphy said in a statement.
The incident occurred in Bellingham early Thursday morning, police say. The Uber driver told police he drove Sayers to make some purchases and then drove him back to the pick-up location. During the drop-off, Sayers allegedly grabbed the driver by the throat and squeezed, restricting the driver’s ability to breath. The attacker made “racially biased comments about the victim’s ‘dark skin,’ the fact he was from India and the turban he was wearing,” police said. The driver fled on foot, leaving his car behind, and called 9-1-1. Police officers located Sayers nearby and arrested him. The suspect was charged with second-degree assault for strangulation..
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