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RPD and DA's Office Investigating Attack on Autistic Teen

Susan Boyle, Syracuse Common Council.
Susan Boyle, Syracuse Common Council.

Syracuse city councilwoman, Susan Boyle, is questioning the Monroe County District Attorney's office about why there was no arrest in the alleged attack of a non-verbal, autistic teen.

According to his mother and eyewitnesses, 15-year-old Chase Coleman was participating in a cross country run at Cobb's Hill Park on October 14, when a middle-aged, Rochester-area man got out of his car, approached Coleman during the race and shoved him to the ground.

Boyle sent a letter to the DA's office requesting an explanation, after a warrant application for the man's arrest was denied.

"There must have been a technicality. There must have been. But unfortunately the victim's family only received a letter saying their charges were denied. There was no additional follow up," said Boyle.

The councilwoman said the family is concerned because Coleman is African American and the attacker is Caucasian.

According to Boyle, the boy's mother said the man told police why he lunged after the boy.

"[He] said that his car had been broken into by African Americans and that when he saw Chase, he was concerned that he was going to be robbed again because of that previous incident," Boyle said.

She said the victim's family is hoping the attacker will be charged with harassment.

Still, after receiving nationwide attention, cries of racism, and being pressed by a now public letter from Boyle, there has been no arrest in the case.

Both the Rochester Police department and the DA's office issued statements Monday to confirm they are "working together with the family of the victim to determine next steps in the investigation."

Boyle said the incident has left Coleman traumatized, and he has decided to quit the track team.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.