A D.C man is speaking out after a racially-charged attack left him with a gash so deep, he needed 18 stitches.
Maxim Smith, 24, who is white, is facing assault charges after police say he smacked a Black man in the head with bicycle lock after repeatedly hurling racial slurs at him. D.C. police said they’re investigating the attack as a hate crime, WJLA reported.
The victim, Ketchazo Paho, said the incident unfolded early Monday in Georgetown. Paho said he was traveling westbound and honked at Smith, who was in the middle of the road on his bicycle.
As he passed Smith with his car, the victim said Smith threw something at his trunk. Paho got out of his car to check for damage, and that’s when he says Smith started shouting the N-word at him. The man said he held on to Smith’s bike as he dialed police to make sure he didn’t get away.
“I’m holding his bike, because he just damaged my property,” Paho told the station. “Like, ‘You’re not going to leave.’ And that’s why he hit me.”
Before he knew it, Paho said Smith struck him with a bike U-lock, leaving his head injured and bloodied. His attacker fled the scene, but D.C. police caught up with him not long after.
Now, Paho is hoping to warn other African-Americans, especially ahead of this weekend’s white nationalist rally. Hundreds of self-professed racists are set to descend on the city to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally, which took place in Charlottesville, Va. last year.
“I’m just going to say keep your eyes open and be on the lookout,” said Paho, a resident of Bethesda. “ … There’s going to be a lot of individuals just like him walking the street like normal Americans.”
Paho’s attorney, Lee Merritt, said it’s unclear if Smith has any ties to white nationalist groups who helped organize the rally but said the hate speech he used was definitely “consistent with these types of groups.”
“We have a lot of hate groups coming to the DC area this weekend,” the civil rights lawyer said. “I think it’s critically important that we get out ahead of that, that law enforcement knows that they need to clamp down, because these groups are notoriously violent.”
According to The Washington Post, prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office are working to determine if there’s enough evidence to charge Smith with a hate crime. So far, police have charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor destruction of property.
Smith is remanded to jail until a follow-up hearing Thursday, Aug. 9.