The victim is reportedly a mixed-martial artist who placed his attacker in a submission hold until police arrived.
Jordan Patrick Leahy was found guilty of a “racially-motivated attack” against a Black man and his family during a road rage incident that allegedly ended with Leahy in a chokehold.
The 29-year-old was convicted of a federal hate crime on Wednesday in Tampa, Florida over an altercation from August 2021 in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused Leahy of targeting the other man over his “race and color.” The victim is simply referred to J.T. in all court documents and was traveling with his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter at the time of the incident.
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Per the Department of Justice, Leahy “began threatening J.T., calling him racial slurs, and used his car in an attempt to force J.T. and his family off the road.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, he was also accused of pretending to “shoot” at the other vehicle and making a Nazi salute, before he later sideswiped J.T. and fled the scene.
J.T., however, caught up with Leahy at a red light, with prosecutors saying at that point “Leahy got out of his car, stormed at J.T., and tried to assault him, again yelling racial slurs.”
NBC News cited court documents which said J.T. is a “a practicing mixed-martial artist, who was able to swiftly put Leahy in a chokehold until he was unconscious and restrained him until police could arrive.” Other reports say he held Leahy in a “submission hold.”
The DoJ release said that when officers from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office got on the scene, Leahy continued to make racist remarks — and is accused of “telling the officers that Black people need to be kept ‘in their areas.'”
After being found guilty, he now faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Leahy will remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals until sentencing.
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“Across America, families must be able to freely travel our public streets without fear of being attacked because of race,” Assistant Attorney General Clarke said in a release. “This verdict should send a strong message that the Department of Justice remains firmly committed to prosecuting, to the fullest extent of the law, those who would use violence to enforce heinous racist beliefs.”
“No one should be targeted, threatened, intimidated or assaulted because of their race,” added U.S. Attorney Handberg. “The defendant in this case acted upon his bigoted beliefs and put an entire family and others’ safety at risk. We and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners will not tolerate such behaviors in our community.”
“Hate crimes are not just an attack on an individual, they are an attack on entire communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Walker. “We want to assure the public the FBI will work diligently investigating crimes driven by hate and intolerance. We encourage anyone who believes their civil rights have been violated to report it to the FBI.”
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