Chase Coleman, 15, is a high school student-athlete with autism who was running a cross-country race for Corcoran High School in Rochester, New York, earlier this month. During the race, an unidentified White male stopped his car and pushed Coleman to the ground. According to witness statements, the man began yelling at Coleman to “Get out of here.” A short time later, police were able to catch up to the man who assaulted Coleman to get his side of the story.
Coleman was running on the road and the man claimed to have been fearful for the safety of his wife who was riding with him in the car. So the man stopped the car and assaulted Coleman because he was afraid the teen was going to steal his wife’s purse. The man claimed that his car was broken into earlier and the memory of that incident caused him to confront the teen, who is non-verbal because of his autism. The attacker did not realize this when he was shouting at Coleman from his moving car before the assault. An officer took a report and the suspect was released. Last week, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office informed Coleman and his parents that Judge Caroline Morrison of Rochester City Court denied the warrant application for the arrest of the suspect for charges of second-degree harassment.
Chase’s mother, Clarise Coleman, stated to the media, “They are treating him like a third-class citizen. He has the double whammy, he’s Black and has a disability. So it’s not important, that’s what Rochester is telling me.”
Susan Boyle of the Syracuse Common Council became aware of the situation and contacted Rochester District Attorney Sandra Doorley for answers in the incident. In a letter, Boyle asked why a warrant was not issued. The letter stated in part: “To be lost due to a racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on an African American minor with absolutely no consequences is, for lack of a stronger word, unacceptable.”
The letter requested an explanation why the action should go unpunished, stating: “Chase Coleman deserves an answer, the parents, teachers, coaches and teammates who have worked so hard to build Chase up to a place where he feels safe and accepted …. deserve an explanation and The Syracuse City School District deserves an explanation and an assurance that all of our City School District students will be protected under the law while visiting Rochester, NY.”