Testimony in hate crime case begins

Mar 3, 2020

A man accused of hate crimes in an incident over the summer is standing trial in Erie County Court.

Jeanneie Muhammad (right) leaves Erie County Court with a supporter.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Jeffrey Calhoun of Lockport was indicted in September of 2019 on charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime and menacing as a hate crime stemming from July altercation in North Buffalo.

Calhoun, who is white, is accused of assaulting and holding Jeanneie Muhammad against her will during a traffic dispute. The hate crime charges are based on allegations from the prosecution Calhoun used a racial slur against Muhammad, and African American Muslim woman.

Witness testimony described an irate Calhoun confronting Muhammed after she bumped the back of his truck. Video of the incident from a cell phone showed Calhoun and Muhammad wrestling on the ground and Calhoun pulling out a gun after being confronted by neighborhood residents.

Speaking in front of the court, a tearful Muhammad recounted Calhoun identifying himself as a police officer and flashing his silver Smith and Wesson handgun.

Jeffrey Calhoun
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Under cross-examination, Muhammad admitted to not telling investigators after the fact Calhoun had a gun nor calling her a racial slur. Witnesses, including two City of Buffalo patrol officers also could not verify Calhoun used a racial slur against Muhammad.

“We live in America, it happens all the time,” Muhammad said when asked why she didn’t notify investigators of the slur against her.

Calhoun is also charged with the felony count of impersonating an officer and a misdemeanor count of assault. If found guilty of the unlawful imprisonment charge, Calhoun could face a maximum of seven years in prison.   

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.