Florida man convicted of federal hate crime for trying to run Black driver and family off the road

·2 min read

A Florida man has been convicted of a federal hate crime after he tried to run a Black man driving with his family off the road in a racist attack.

Jordan Patrick Leahy, 29, was found guilty of interfering with the victim’s federally protected right to drive on the street in federal court in Tampa on Wednesday.

Jurors had heard how the white man launched into the “racially-motivated attack” while driving through Seminole, Florida, back on 8 August 2021.

The victim, a Black man identified only as JT, was driving his four-year-old daughter and girlfriend home from a family get together that day when Leahy pulled up alongside them in his car and began making threats.

Leahy yelled racial slurs and made a shooting gesture at the Black man’s vehicle before using his car to try to force the victim’s car off the road, prosecutors said.

The 29-year-old then chased the family’s car for almost a mile and half down the road before sideswiping their car and fleeing the scene.

But, when the perpetrator stopped at the next red light, he encountered JT again as the Black man pulled up behind him in the family’s car.

At that moment, Leahy got out of his vehicle and “stormed” at JT, trying to assault him while shouting racial slurs.

But JT – a mixed-martial artist – fought back, restraining his attacker and placing him in a chokehold until law enforcement could arrive.

Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office deputies arrived and Leahy admitted that he had targeted his victim because of his racist beliefs, telling the officers that Black people need to be kept “in their areas”.

Jordan Patrick Leahy faces up to 10 years in prison over the racist attack (Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)
Jordan Patrick Leahy faces up to 10 years in prison over the racist attack (Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)

Leahy now faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

He was returned to the custody of the US Marshals ahead of his sentencing.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a press release announcing his conviction that the verdict “should send a strong message” that racism will not be tolerated by the DOJ.

“Across America, families must be able to freely travel our public streets without fear of being attacked because of race,” she said.

“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.”