Somali American cabbie beaten in alleged Seattle hate crime

Taxi hate crime
This is the second high-profile assault of a cab driver in Seattle that is alleged to be racially motivated in the past two years. (Photo via Flickr user doerky)

A 26-year-old man is accused of a hate crime after allegedly beating a Somali American cab driver while calling him a “terrorist” and asking him if he was a member of ISIS. Two other passengers who rode with him allegedly participated in the early Sunday morning assault, according to police.

Jesse Alexander Fleming, 26, was charged Wednesday in King County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree assault and malicious harassment, a charge that alleges that the attack was motivated by racial, ethnic or religious bias. Fleming, of San Manuel, Arizona, is on active duty in the military, according to charging papers.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office requested a $100,000 bail for Fleming. His bail initially was set at $50,000.

The driver, Adan Ali Gaal, 34, was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken nose that may require surgery, according to the charging documents from the prosecutor’s office. Gaal spoke earlier this week to television reporters, who shared photos of the taxi driver after the attack.

The case is the second high profile assault of a cab driver in Seattle with alleged racial or religious motivation in the past two years.

Gaal told Seattle Police that he picked up three men and a woman in Belltown just before 2 a.m. Sunday and drove them to the 4200 block of 27th Ave. W. in Magnolia, according to a news release by the Seattle Police Department.

According to the account, Fleming got angry over how long it took to process his credit card to pay for the transaction, according to police, and he told the driver “you are a terrorist,” “you should go back to your own country,” and “I will shoot you” before leaning across the seat to punch him in the face.

After Gaal was knocked out, his foot came off the brake and the taxi rolled down the hill and struck several cars and an apartment building. The two other men in the car also joined the attack, according to police.

The passengers fled the scene when neighbors came out to investigate, but Fleming returned while police were investigating, according to police. According to the police account, Fleming said that he beat the driver in self-defense.

The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for an FBI hate crime investigation into the case, and also called for the public for help in identifying the other two men who were allegedly involved in the beating.

We are hearing news of high profile anti-Muslim hate crimes happening nationwide almost every day,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari in a prepared statement. “We will work with our partners in state and federal law enforcement, including the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office, so that the perpetrators are met with the full force of the law.”

Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of CAIR-WA, calls for an FBI investigation of a racially-charged assault against a Muslim cab driver. (Photo courtesy CAIR-WA.)
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of CAIR-WA, calls for an FBI investigation of a racially-charged assault against a Muslim cab driver. (Photo courtesy CAIR-WA.)

The federal government has taken on such incidents before. Last December, Jamie Larson of Federal Way was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison after he beat an immigrant cab driver in 2012 while making disparaging remarks about Muslims. Larson’s victim, who suffered a concussion and underwent physical therapy for his injuries, is an immigrant from India and is a practicing Sikh, according to a story from The Seattle Times published at the time of Larson’s sentencing.

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10 Comments

  1. I think that you are sensationalizing this as a hate crime when it was not, because from my comprehension of this article, you are completely biased towards the taxi driver. I happen to know the young man involved and know that he would not hurt someone over a transaction taking too long. I also know that I have been in that area and been approached by several immigrants and all they said to me was “Death to America”, which if I called the police could be charged as a hate crime, for implying my death in the future. Why do the Muslims get more consideration than the girl that had lighter fluid poured down her throat and lit on fire? Doesn’t the FBI have something better to do than investigate an isolated incident of stupidity?

    1. First of all things you. Are being biased due to the fact you know the young man involved. This is defiantly a hate crime. Why do we have to be symphatic towards someone who beat up a innocent man and called him names. Crashing his source of income which was his taxi? Why can’t we just tell the truth this is a hate crime. That man who did this is a animal with no respect for others and himself! I don’t know if you know this but their was a Muslim man that was slashed in the throat and the man who murdred him will be out of jail soon.

      1. @ Unknown, why is it that you compare a person who murders someone with a isolated incident on which you have been told one side of the story? I also know all people involved and if fact I received a phone call from one of the individuals involved while they were in the cab, and heard Mr Gaal, calling the group American assholes. So in that case if Mr Gaal considers himself an American then he should have used the term assholes and not made the distinction between himself and Americans. Point number 2: Mr Gaal is lying, he was not knocked unconscious but instead hit the gas pedal which caused Jesse Fleming to receive a concussion and broken ribs (which by the way can be verified by hospital records). Jesse Fleming returned to the scene to apologize for losing his temper, he realizes that he should not have let Mr. Gaal slurs against Americans cause him to lose his temper. These are facts, I am not biased towards Jesse Fleming because I know him, I seek the truth and the truth is not being represented at all here. Mr. Gaal is not being honest in his recall of the events, and everyone is so eager to be on the hate crime band wagon, well I myself am an immigrant and consider myself an American, so I wouldn’t think about calling a white person an American asshole. All this is going to do is feed the hate for anyone resembling a Muslim. As an immigrant, I do not request that the Pledge of Alliegence or prayer be removed from public schools because if offends me, I don’t ask that the flag of my country be displayed in the classroom. There is no reason for America to change to suit the ideals of any other country, if that were so then stay in your home country. I immigrated and embraced the way of life here, didn’t make any distinction outwardly of the difference between my previous country and my now home country. If a particular race does not like the American way, stay in the country you like, or create schools that conform to your ideals, instead of changing what is here because it offends you. If this is indeed a hate crime, then Mr. Gaal is the tinder that lit the fire with his slurs against Americans. And Mr. Gaal calling the natural born citizens American assholes, shows that, he himself has contempt and hate for America and American citizens. My question is: Why is he here? Does he think he should be able to have the advantages that many generations built this country to be, while the entire time loathing the way of life and the natural born citizens ? And as for religion or race, everyone has the right in this country to be themselves and worship the way they believe as long as it does not infringe upon other’s rights. This is the only country in the world that allows this freedom and it is incidents like this that are slowing closing the noose around all our necks. As for the man that murdered someone, that is a hate crime. And I cringe that he will be allowed out soon. I am sorry that you cannot see both sides of this situation but I promise you that Mr. Gaal is not the poor innocent, he claims to be. I do not harbor hate in my heart for any sect or nationality, but sometimes after the things we are seeing on the news, we tend to become biased towards whatever nationality or religious sect that has claimed to be responsible for deadly attacks against citizens of this country. Please all I ask you is to investigate and realize what you are being told is not the truth. And hopefully when it comes to court, Mr Gaal will have enough morals to be honest.

        1. A.E.Lee: It’s always good to hear multiple accounts of a situation like this so the truth can be made clear. The Yellow Cab camera roll will certainly provide additional info. A few days ago, the police requested the public’s help in identifying the other passengers who fled the scene. As you’ve stated that you know all the individuals involved, and communicated with them in the cab, have you contacted Seattle Police to share their names?

          1. In fact I have and I was assured that they knew who the other people involved were. And that they had the situation under control. And I agree with you that the camera will provide the truth, until then I actually hold nobody at blame, it is just an unfortunate incident, in which both parties were injured and both parties will have the rest of their lives changed because of it. I do not agree with racial or religious slurs, especially when it leads to violence. It would seem to me that if we can figure out how to put a man in space, we should be able to figure out how to inhabit this earth without violence towards each other. What does this teach the children?

  2. ” Lee ” give us some break , ”this was an unfortunate incident” ok the driver beat himself i guess and it was nobody ‘s fault lol , people like you disgust me , anyway save your energy don’t bother to respond i wont read it and nobody gives a rat a** about u , the guy got his nose broken and the attackers will pay huge price at the big house .

  3. mostafa, you seem to me to be a hate mongering idiot and you disgust me, lol nobody bothered to interview Jesse Fleming did they? Nobody bothered to report that Mr Gaal was not beaten unconscious and his foot did not slip off the brake, he removed and pushed the gas pedal to the floor causing Jesse Fleming who was sitting half in and half out of the from passenger seat of the taxi to fall resulting in a concussion and broken ribs. Idiots like you need to need to see beyond your hate for other races and see the truth. I don’t think it in Mr. Gaals job description to call anyone an American asshole, and I can see from your comments you are poorly educated and feel like you got short changed because of your lack of ambition, mostafa <mostupida

  4. A.E.Lee first of all the complaints are not just from the immigrant drivers. its to the whole community of cab drivers. People are also differnt around different people. he could be nice to you but be a monster and an ass hole to others(not saying he is or is not an ass). also he god damn beat a man. why would he just crash his car to get some guy in trouble. Lee good argument though.

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