Hate crime prosecution sought after man pulls gun on woman

Jul 17, 2019

Jeffrey Calhoun of Lockport is facing charges after a traffic incident led to an altercation that was captured on camera.

Members from National Association for Equal Justice in America and the Buffalo Civil Rights Initiative joined Muhammad and her husband at a press conference Wednesday afternoon asking for Calhoun to be ‘prosecuted to the full extent of the law.’
Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

Calhoun was arraigned in Buffalo City Court on one count of attempted robbery in the first degree, one count of menacing in the second degree, and one count of harassment in the second degree for his role in an alleged violent altercation on Sanders Road and Colvin Avenue Tuesday morning.

Calhoun, a white male, allegedly threw Jeanneie Muhammad, an African-American Muslim woman, to the ground, then drew his gun and pointed it at her and bystanders after a minor traffic incident. While Calhoun was in the police vehicle, Muhammad said he used racial slurs.

“While he was sitting in the car, he looked at me and said, you n*****, ‘You probably didn’t even have insurance,’ and I said, ‘Oh be quiet,’” Muhammad said. “So we’re going back (and forth) like this the police officer said, ‘Ma’am you can’t have this exchange.’ And he walked me down the street.”

Now she, along with other African-American leaders in the region, want the incident to be classified as a hate crime.

“I would like for the DA to make this a precedent also. I would like for it to stop here. Because nobody knows when it's going to be them next. I never thought it would be me. I never thought someone would point a gun to me and tell me don’t move, don’t run,” Muhammad said.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he is looking in to the situation as a possible hate crime.

“There’s video out there which is good for me in the sense that I have a visual video to ask what happened at a certain period of time,” Flynn said. “So I review the video, I’m getting statements. I’m talking to the officers. I’m talking to the people that were there to get a full picture.”

WARNING: Video contains coarse language

Precious Santiaga shot the video on her phone from her porch.

"I thought she was a shoplifter. I saw the man's gun. I thought he was a security guard trying to stop her. That turned out not to be the case," Santiaga said.

Santiaga started telling Calhoun to stop so she could call the police. Then, she said, he saw him bite Muhammad.

"And that's when I just lost it," Santiaga said. "I jumped down all my steps. Ran across the street, didn't even look both ways. And they let me go across the street and I asked him why are you doing this to her?"

Muhammad said Santiaga helped deescalate the situation.

Members from National Association for Equal Justice in America and the Buffalo Civil Rights Initiative joined Muhammad and her husband at a press conference Wednesday afternoon asking for Calhoun to be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Flynn said that is what he plans to do.

“I can ensure the victim, her husband and the community that I will prosecute this manner to the fullest extent with the evidence that I have, that I can prove in the court of law,” Flynn said.

If convicted on all current charges, Calhoun could face up to 15 years in prison. Flynn said there could be more charges brought forward once the investigation is completed.