Home USA News Driver tries to run off Florida road Black father and family: feds

Driver tries to run off Florida road Black father and family: feds

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A man has been convicted of a hate crime after trying to run a Florida family off the road in a racially charged attack, prosecutors say.

A man has been convicted of a hate crime after trying to run a Florida family off the road in a racially charged attack, prosecutors say.

After a driver tried to push a black father and his family off the road in Florida while yelling obscenities — in what was described as a racially motivated attack — he made “violent and disturbing comments” to law enforcement, court documents say .

After his arrest on the night of August 8, 2021, 29-year-old Jordan Patrick Leahy told an officer:[d]oh, you know how badly I want to kill people,” the sentencing documents show.

When asked about the attack on the family along the road in Seminole, he is accused of saying, “I just remember throwing a Nazi salute and trying to pick a fight with some random… (expletive) colored people, bro that’s all I remember.’

About a year later a federal jury in Tampa found Leahy guilty hate crime on Aug. 24, McClatchy News previously reported.

After the jury’s verdict, Leahy and his defense asked for a prison sentence of four to 10 months, arguing that the attack “was not a hate crime” and, the court heard, he only wanted to scare his father to “get attention.” documents presented by his lawyer.

The judge has now sentenced Leahy to two years in federal prison on Monday, November 7, in connection with a hate crime, the Ministry of Justice said in a press release.

McClatchy News reached out to Leahy’s attorneys for comment on Nov. 8 and was awaiting a response.

“This federal court has sentenced Jordan Leahy to prison for his decision to use his car in a racist attack on a (parent) family,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

“All people should be able to travel freely on public roads without fear of being harmed because of who they are,” Clark added.

Attack on the carriageway

On Aug. 8, 2021, Leahy was driving “excessively intoxicated” and previously pleaded guilty in state court to assault in a roadway, court documents state.

The father was driving his 4-year-old daughter and girlfriend home from a family dinner in Seminole that evening before meeting Leahy, McClatchy News reported.

As the father was driving south in the left lane on Starkey Road, Leahy “inched” his car toward them and pretended to shoot the family with a gun, according to the court document. He is also accused of shouting racial slurs at his father.

“I never seen so much hate” said the father’s girlfriend in an interview with ABC News. “You just hear (racial slurs) flying at us.”

Leahy then swerved into the family’s lane in an attempt to get out of the way before hitting them as the father tried to drive away, prosecutors said.

Leahy’s “chase” of the family continued for about a mile and a half until he hit their car, causing the car’s mirrors to collide, according to court documents. Leahy then sped down the road.

The encounter didn’t end there, however, because the father wanted to take a picture of Leahy’s car to report the attack to authorities, court documents state. As a result, the father followed him down Starkey Road until both cars ran a red light.

At a red light, prosecutors say Leahy got out of the car, charged and tried to attack his father, hurling more racial slurs at him — but the father fought back in self-defense.

According to court documents, the incident ended with the father dodging Leahy’s clenched fist and choking him until Pinellas County deputies arrived.

The alleged motives of the driver

After the incident, according to court documents, Leahy explained his “remorse” and stated that:

“What I did was wrong. I terrorized a group of people. I had no idea his daughter was in the car. This was not a hate crime. I maintain my innocence. It wasn’t because he was black or from the road. I can’t hear myself. I certainly feel sorry for the victims. I did it for attention.”

In a sentencing memo, Leahy’s attorney wrote that his family explained that Leahy “was not raised in a racist household and that he frequently associated with black people and supported black public figures such as football players and President Obama.”

However, when he was previously incarcerated for stalking an ex-girlfriend, his “outlook toward black people changed” when he saw those in prison “sorting themselves by race,” according to the memo.

Ultimately, Leahy’s defense argued that the attack on the father and his family had nothing to do with race and more to do with Leahy’s history of shocking people “to get attention,” according to the memo.

But prosecutors argued that Leahy had displayed “anti-blackness for many years” and had previously expressed violent intentions, including declaring his “desire to be a ‘mass murderer'” in his sentencing memo.

“Just as the jury found and the evidence established at trial, the defendant deliberately chose (the father) because he was black,” prosecutors wrote.

Leahy’s prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, prosecutors said.

Pinellas County is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, west of Tampa.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. She has previously written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and others.

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