The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for an investigation into a hit-and-run crash in Harford County that they say targeted a Palestinian American Muslim family.
The Maryland State Police, who investigated the crash, say there is no evidence the collision was anything more than “an unfortunate sequence of events.”
The crash occurred just before 6 a.m. Friday, police said, when the driver of a 2011 Kia 4S that was traveling north on Interstate 95 near Aberdeen when the vehicle left the roadway and struck the passenger side of a 2015 Ford Focus that was parked on the left shoulder of the highway.
The Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization said five members of a Muslim family — including four women who were wearing hijabs — were driving on I-95 in Harford County when they pulled to the side of the road to get an item from the trunk.
One of the women opened the passenger door partway when she made eye contact with a driver, CAIR said. The organization alleges that the driver then swerved and hit the car door, “narrowly missing the Muslim woman in what could have been a deadly impact.”
The family alleges the driver did not appear to make an attempt to slow down and sped away from the scene, CAIR said in a statement.
A state trooper chased the Kia and stopped it about a half-mile away from the crash, according to a statement from police. No injuries were reported as a result of the collision.
The driver, a 26-year-old from Cambridge, was cited for four traffic violations, and was allowed to leave the scene, police said. CAIR said Wednesday that the family was not aware that citations were issued.
“From CAIR’s standpoint, citations aren’t sufficient especially considering the driver who struck their car attempted to flee the scene of an accident,” Zainab Chaudry, director of CAIR’s Maryland office, said in an email.
Investigators believe glare from the sun affected the driver’s vision and was a contributing factor in the crash, according to the police statement.
In the statement, police said investigators made a “full and thorough inquiry” into the collision and there was no evidence to support the crash was anything other than an accident.
CAIR said that the photos provided by the family and the fact that they were facing the same direction “dispute the claim” that there may have been a glare.
The family told CAIR that the trooper blamed the woman. It’s likely the incident was caught on the trooper’s dash camera. Baltimore Sun Media has submitted a Public Information Act request for the footage and subsequent traffic stop.
“There must be a criminal investigation into every aspect of this disturbing incident, including the alleged actions and lack of remorse of the driver — who narrowly missed seriously injuring a member of this Muslim family before driving away from the scene — and the lack of appropriate action by the responding officer,” Chaudry said in a news release Monday.