A white Florida man was convicted for a "racially-motivated" road rage incident that ended with a Black martial artist putting him in a chokehold, according to the U.S. Department of Justice on August 25.
A federal jury in Tampa found 29-year-old Jordan Patrick Leahy guilty of targeting a Black man, identified as J.T., who was driving down a public roadway with his family. The incident happened on August 8, 2021, in Clearwater when J.T. was traveling with his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter from a family event, according to court documents.
That's when Leahy pulled up near the family's vehicle, shouting racial slurs at J.T. and using his car to try forcing the Black man and his family off the road, according to the DOJ. J.T. used evasive maneuvers to evade Leahy, but the white man ended up sideswiping them, court evidence shows.
They encountered each other again at a red light, where Leahy reportedly got out of his car, kept hurtling slurs at J.T., and attempted to assault him. Leahy wasn't prepared for the victim to show off his martial arts skills and put him in a chokehold until the 29-year-old blacked out, per court documents.
When Pinellas County deputies arrived on the scene, they claim Leahy made “numerous statements evidencing his bias motive," including saying Black people need to be kept "in their areas," the DOJ's release says.
“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 the statement. “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.”
Leahy is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals pending sentencing for hate crimes and violating J.T.'s civil rights. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000, according to prosecutors.