A white man who claims he was held at gunpoint by a black man and told to apologize “for all the things white people did to black people,” does not believe he was the victim of a hate crime.
David Israel, 34, of Seattle, told KIRO Radio Friday that 35-year-old Chikwanha E. Nyashanu should not have been charged with malicious harassment, which is a bias crime under state statue.
According to court documents, officers were called to 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. around 9:14 p.m. Monday on a report that an unknown male had threatened someone with a handgun near the Green Lake Community Center. The victim, identified in documents as Israel, told police he was “scared out of his mind” when the suspect, later identified as Nyashanu, pointed a handgun at his abdomen for 15 to 20 seconds.
“I put my hands up and I said … ‘You don’t want to do this, you don’t want to do this. I’ll give you anything you want,'” Israel told the Ron and Don Show Friday. “‘My wallet, money, anything I can do for you. You don’t want to do this.'”
Israel said Nyashanu told him he only wanted an apology.
“He said, ‘You know, I just want you to apologize. I don’t want your money. I want you to apologize for everything your people did to my people.'” Israel said. “I just started apologizing.”
When asked if he thought the crime was racially-motivated, Israel said he did not believe so.
“I don’t at all, actually,” he said. “I don’t think he, by any means, approached me and my friend because we were white. I just think we happened to be in his path.”
“We were in his way and he approached us because we were the closest people there, and then it happened to be that I was white and it happened to be that he was black and it just clicked in his mind and made sense to go that route.”
Prosecutors said there does appear to be a motive for the crime other than race.
“(Police) certainly attempted to try to figure out what the motivation here was and they simply just didn’t get anything from him,” Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, told the Dori Monson Show. “On its face, the evidence seems to show the motivation for singling this particular victim out was his racial identity.”
According to state statute, a person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she commits a crime based on “his or her perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap.”
Nyashanu has also been charged with second-degree assault, and is currently being held at the King County Jail on $500,000 bail.
At a hearing on Tuesday, a woman who identified herself as Nyashanu’s mother told a judge that her son “has never exhibited any aggressive behavior toward others.”
“I am just pretty astounded that this is happening,” said the woman, who was white.
According to court records, Nyashanu has a weapons-related conviction from 2002 as well as a conviction for obstruction of justice in 2006 and reckless endangerment in 2009.
MyNorthwest.com’s Josh Kerns contributed to this report.