MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A central Minnesota man faces bias-motivated assault charges after allegedly choking a Somali cab driver last month and telling police that he doesn’t trust Muslims.
Twenty-three-year-old Zachary Degraw, of Willmar, faces one count of bias-motivated assault (a gross misdemeanor) and two counts of misdemeanor fifth-degree assault.
According to the criminal complaint, the assault happened in the early morning hours of March 25 when the cab driver picked up Degraw and a woman in St. Cloud and drove them to a bar east of the city.
During the ride, Degraw put his arm around the driver’s neck and began choking him. After struggling to break free, the cab driver stopped the car and called for help.
According to the court documents, the woman in the car told police that Degraw was “racist,” the report said. Degraw denied choking the driver.
When police asked Degraw what happened, he expressed concern about the driver calling his friends. According to the documents cited in the report, Degraw told officers he didn’t trust Muslims, particularly in regards in to what they might do to white women.