Syracuse mom says autistic son attacked during run for being black; no charges filed

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The mom of an autistic teenager is pushing to have charges filed against the man who allegedly assaulted her son during a race, saying there haven’t been charges yet because of racial bias.

CBS Syracuse affiliate WTVH-TV reports Clarise Coleman has gained the support of at least one local politician to correct what they say is an “unacceptable” outcome to the alleged attack.

The alleged incident took place on October 14th when Clarise’s son Chase, who is a non-verbal autistic 15-year-old, took part in a cross-country race sponsored by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity called the Purple and Gold Invitational, in nearby Rochester.

A witness to the assault told the Rochester Police Department that Chase was just standing quietly in the middle of the road when a 57-year-old, later identified as Martin MacDonald by Syracuse.com, got out of his vehicle to confront the teen.

The witness, Collin Thompson, said the man approached Chase and pushed him to the ground, yelling: “Get out of here.”

Another witness to the scene, Kris Van Metter, told Syracuse.com that the man who pushed the teen “ten feet and flat on his butt” was “quite heavy.”

“The kid didn’t seem to be doing anything but standing there, obviously had nothing in his hands, and weighed all of 130 pounds,” Van Metter said. “This guy (MacDonald) was easily twice that.”

Both witnesses reportedly got the man’s license plate number when he fled the scene, and police later tracked him down. The man reportedly admitted to confronting the teen, saying he thought Chase was going to mug his wife -- who was in the car -- and steal her purse.

The man reportedly said his car had recently been broken into, which was what he was thinking about when he pushed Chase. The suspect said Chase was not responding to him when he told him to leave the road. Chase’s disability leaves him with hampered speech, and he may have been standing in the road because he became confused during the organized race.

WTVH-TV reports that on October 21st, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office informed Chase’s mom Clarise that Judge Caroline Morrison of Rochester City Court had denied the warrant application for the arrest of the suspect for charges of 2nd degree harassment.

“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,” Clarise said.

Susan Boyle of the Syracuse Common Council has taken up the Coleman’s case, and said in a letter to the district attorney that “Chase Coleman deserves an answer, the parents, teacher, coaches and teammates who have worked so hard to build Chase up to a place where he feels safe and accepted.... deserves an explanation.”