2005-11-25 / Front Page

Road Rage Or Bias Incident?

Police Officials Say Question Is Under Investigation
By Howard Schwach

An incident on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel that led to one man being hit with an aluminum baseball bat and two under arrest has officials trying to decide if it was a bias incident or a simple case of road rage.

One thing is clear. Both Rockaway resident Sonita Jacobs and Florida resident Lawrence White were involved in the incident and both were arrested and charged in Queens Supreme Court.

Jacobs, who is black, says that the incident began at about 5:30 p.m. on November 17.

Jacobs and her husband, Randy, who was driving, were traveling southbound on Cross Bay Boulevard nearby the bird sanctuary when they encountered a police safety checkpoint that involved all of the southbound cars moving into a single lane.

Jacobs said that hers was the second car in line when a black car passed them on the driver’s side and tried to cut into the line in front of the car they were behind.

According to Jacobs, the car in front would not let the interloper cut the line and neither did her husband.

After passing the checkpoint without incident, she says, the car caught up to them on the passenger side

Jacobs said that the driver, later identified as Lawrence White, 24 of Cape Coral, Florida, yelled racial invectives at her, stating that he was going to “F___ her up.”

Jacobs and her husband buttoned up their car and tried to get away, she says.

When they stopped at a red light at West Ninth Road, however, the other car cut in front of theirs, blocking them in.

She says that the driver, who was white, got out of the car with an aluminum baseball bat and approached them.

According to Jacobs, he again started shouting racial slurs and threatened their safety.

Randy Jacobs got out of the car to confront the man, Jacobs said, while she used his cell phone to call 911.

She says that White swung the bat at her husband’s head, but he managed to duck and tackle his attacker. In the fight that ensued, Jacobs said, White dropped the bat.

Jacobs said that she picked up the baseball bat and managed to help her husband disentangle himself from the fight and that she tried to stop passing motorists to help them, but nobody would stop.

When police came, Jacobs said, they arrested both her and her husband as well as White.

“They told me that we shouldn’t have stopped,” she said.

Court papers provided by the office of District Attorney Richard Brown say that Jacobs was arrested on charges of third degree assault for hitting White with the bat and second degree harassment.

The complaint against Jacobs says that she “struck [White] in the face with an aluminum bat, causing an abrasion, bruising and substantial pain.”

White was arrested on charges of second degree menacing, reckless driving and second degree harassment.

The complaint against White says that he “Used his automobile to cut off [Jacobs’] vehicle and that he “threatened to cause serious physical injury to her with an aluminum bat.”

Jacobs says that she wants the incident reclassified as an “official bias incident,” and police officials say that an investigation into whether or not it will be reclassified is under way.

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