An autistic Syracuse, New York ninth grader was the victim of a racial attack during a cross country race in Rochester earlier this month. Weeks after the incident, authorities have refused to press charges against the suspect even after he admitted to the crime.
On Oct. 14, a middle-aged white man jumped out of his vehicle, with his wife in the passenger seat, and chased 15-year-old Corcoran High School student Chase Coleman down the road. At the time, Chase, a nonverbal autistic teen, was in the middle of the road. His mother, Clarise Coleman, believes Chase may have been confused during the race and did not know what direction to run.
The attacker, identified as 57-year-old Martin MacDonald, “thought Chase was going to mug his wife and take her purse,” per the initial police report. That same report states that MacDonald was fearful and concerned because “some youths had broken into his car recently.”
One witness retold the horrifying details of what the teen experienced. Kris Van Metter, 42, was in Rochester visiting relatives that weekend. He told Syracuse.com via a phone interview that he saw “a large middle-aged man get out of his car and yell at Chase for several minutes.”
“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,” Van Metter said. “Like, just shoved him across the road. The kid didn’t seem to be doing anything but standing there, obviously had nothing in his hands, and weighed all of 130 pounds. This guy (MacDonald) was easily twice that.”
Subsequently, the two witnesses on scene recorded the man’s license plate and the motorist was later discovered by police. Syracuse.com reports that one witness heard MacDonald yelling because Chase was blocking his vehicle.
In an Oct. 30 interview with WROC-TV, Clarise Coleman talks about how Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison denied her request to issue an arrest warrant charging MacDonald for second-degree harassment.
“Both witnesses saw him get pushed to the ground. And one witness saw the gentleman hovering over him about to hit him and he yelled out,” Clarise Coleman tells reporters.
She said she decided to get her local councilwoman involved. Councilwoman Susan Boyle released a statement calling out the miscarriage of justice.
“For all of this progress to be lost due to a racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on a disabled African-American minor with absolutely no consequences is, for lack of a stronger word, unacceptable.”
According to Syracuse.com, Chase has been racing since seventh grade and he was not physically hurt. However, because the teen is nonverbal, his parents have not fully gauged the emotional impact of the incident.
“If that man had been Black and Chase had been white, and that (police) report went in, he’d have been in jail,” Clarise Coleman told Syracuse.com.