Rock Island County Sheriff patch
Dan Bowerman

Rock Island County Sheriff’s investigators will meet Friday with prosecutors to decide if any charges are warranted, including hate crime charges, after a local member of the Sikh community who drives for Uber filed a report alleging that a passenger pointed a gun at his head and said, “I hate turban people.”

“We’ll make a decision on Friday,” Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said Wednesday. “The Sheriff’s Department has been investigating and has been compiling information.”

Part of that information had to come from Uber, which took time, McGehee said.

McGehee could not comment further as the investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff Gerry Bustos said the incident allegedly occurred about 10:40 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, and was reported to the Sheriff’s Department about 11 a.m. the next day.

Investigators have been working the case since, Bustos said.

According to a news release issued Wednesday by the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based civil and human rights organization formed after the 9-11 attacks in response to hate violence, at 10:39 p.m. on Jan. 28, the alleged victim picked up a Caucasian man and woman in the alley in the area of 15th Street and 15th Avenue in Moline.

As the driver was taking the passengers home, the man allegedly asked the driver about his immigration status and his country of origin.

According to the news release, the driver claims that the man wielded a handgun. The man then pointed the gun at the driver’s head and allegedly said, “I hate turban people. I hate beard people.”

The driver slammed on the brakes and the woman forcibly removed the man from the car, according to the news release. The woman apologized for the man’s behavior and instructed the driver to take her home, but to avoid taking the same route back to avoid another encounter with the man, according to the release.

The victim and members of the Sikh Coalition met with Bustos and investigators Wednesday to see where the investigation stands.

“It’s been almost three weeks since our client reported this incident to the police and we met with them in an effort to push them to no longer delay the investigation,” said Amrith Kaur, legal director of the Sikh Coalition.

Kaur, a former Cook County, Illinois, assistant state’s attorney, said, “As a former prosecutor I respect the investigation, and I appreciate they are putting forth the effort to make this a priority.”

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