(ATLANTA, GA - 7/17/2019) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today welcomed news that Rick Painter, a racist who attacked a Muslim woman last year, pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery just hours before he was scheduled to face trial.
Painter was first arrested by the Atlanta Police Department on May 5, 2018. When Ms. King delivered food to his home for DoorDash, Painter declared "I am Jesus," grabbed Ms. King's hijab and niqab, and wrestled her to the ground, where he attempted to strangle her with her own clothing.
[NOTE: Hijab is the religious hair scarf used by Muslim women to cover their hair, while a niqab is a face that some women wear].
Ms. King, who is 4'11 tall, used her keyring and cell phone to successfully fight off Painter, who is 6'3 and weighed 200 pounds at the time of the incident. She then escaped and contacted the police department, which arrested Painter.
Painter has a prior felony battery conviction for attacking a police officer and has been described by one of his black neighbors as a "racist." He was initially charged with only misdemeanor violations. After CAIR-Georgia agreed to represent Ms. King, and assisted law enforcement's investigation, prosecutors elevated the charges to felonies.
In the fourteen months since his arrest, Painter has been detained in the Fulton County Jail, awaiting trial.
During a plea hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse on July 17th, Judge Kimberly Adams heard a victim impact statement from Ms. King before accepting Mr. Painter's guilty plea. The judge sentenced Painter to two years in prison for false imprisonment and one concurrent year in prison for misdemeanor battery, with credit for time served, and a commutation of his remaining year in jail, meaning he will likely go free today.
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
"We thank the Fulton County District Attorney's Office for ensuring that Mr. Painter pled guilty to a felony charge, which reflects the serious nature of his attack on Sonya King. Had Ms. King not been blessed with the ability to fight back so bravely against a man twice her size, she might have died that day.
"Although we respectfully disagree with the decision to set this dangerous man free after he served only fourteen months in jail, we hope that law enforcement will take appropriate measures to ensure that he does not continue to pose a threat to the public, especially other women who wear hijabs.
"Finally, we commend Sonya King, whose courage and resilience should serve as an inspiration to all of people targeted by hate. Ms. King not only managed to fight off a man twice her size. She also successfully overcame months of emotional trauma, handled the spotlight of a prominent crime, and dealt with side effects from medical treatment, all while living as a dedicated wife and mother."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.