Motorist charged in Edmonton road-rage incident that may have been racially motivated

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Police say the EPS hate crimes and violent extremism unit is recommending that a section of the Criminal Code allowing tougher sentencing be applied in the case.  (CBC - image credit)
Police say the EPS hate crimes and violent extremism unit is recommending that a section of the Criminal Code allowing tougher sentencing be applied in the case. (CBC - image credit)

A 34-year-old man was charged with assault causing bodily harm after a road-rage incident Sunday that started when a driver made "a profane gesture" at a woman wearing a hijab.

The incident "may have been racially motivated," the Edmonton Police Service said in a news release Wednesday.

Police said officers responded to an alleged road-rage incident Sunday evening near the intersection of Fort Road and 122nd Avenue.

A man was driving in a van with his family north on 82nd Street just past 118th Avenue when another motorist in the next lane gestured at the man's wife, who was wearing a hijab and sitting in the front passenger seat.

With both vehicles still in motion, the motorist who had made the gesture then threatened the family "with his vehicle," police said, "speeding up and slowing down erratically next to the complainant's van, before eventually causing a minor collision between the two vehicles."

A friend of the man driving the van was travelling behind him and "observed the reckless driving of the accused," police said.

'Religious slurs' and assault alleged

All three vehicles pulled off the road into a parking lot near Fort Road and 122nd Avenue. The van driver and his friend tried to exchange licence and insurance information with the other motorist.

"It is alleged the accused male refused to exchange information then uttered religious slurs at the driver and his family," police said. "The accused then assaulted the primary complainant's friend, before fleeing the location prior to the arrival of police."

The person who was assaulted was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police later arrested a 34-year-old man at his home. He is charged with assault causing bodily harm, careless driving and some traffic infractions.

Police said the EPS hate crimes and violent extremism unit is recommending that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in the case. The law allows courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate.

EPS said it has also reached out to leaders of the Muslim community to keep them informed.

In recent months, Edmonton police have investigated six hate-motivated attacks on Black and Muslim women in Edmonton. The victims were walking in public, waiting for the bus or sitting in their cars.