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Long Island Prosecutors Unsure If Driver's Racist Rant, Caught On Video, Is Criminal

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A Long Island driver's bigoted tirade against a black motorist is now being investigated by Long Island authorities—but it's unclear if any crime was committed.

Bentley Sanon was driving in Deer Park on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 18th, when he crossed paths with the unhinged driver. Acknowledging that he is being filmed, the racist driver calls Sanon the n-word repeatedly and accuses Sanon of being a bad driver. Warning: The video is very disturbing.

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini told Newsday, "I saw the video of the racist rant, if you will, which was obviously incredibly disturbing and further proof that racism is alive and well in our community." While his office and the police department had not received a complaint, Sini said they would "take a look to see if any crime was committed."

From Newsday:

Based on viewings of the video alone, he said, the district attorney's office found no crime, that is, nothing to support potential charges such as disorderly conduct or harassment — or a hate crime, which can be an “add on” to an existing criminal charge.

“Although the activity is extremely disturbing and offensive, it does not seem to constitute a crime, at least without further evidence of some other action taken by the individual making the comments,” Sini said.

After reports of the viral video, Sini added, his office reached out to the Long Island NAACP to let officials know about the DA’s intent to review the clip. He said the office reached out once again to let organization officials know the outcome.

Fred Brewington, a civil rights attorney, who looked at the video at Newsday's request, said, "It is repugnant, it is reprehensible, but is it a violation of law? Probably not... If someone is walking down the street and making comments, referring to someone using the N-word, the question is whether that rises to the level of criminal harassment. If the person who took a video wanted to file a complaint, then the DA would be forced to investigate and make a determination as to what the facts were."

Tracey Edwards, regional director of the NAACP, told News 12 that more work needs to be done. "The video itself does not" suggest a crime, she said. "But I think if we interview and do what we can to collect all of the information, we'll have a better picture of what type of incident it actually was."

Earlier this month, David DiMarco, one of the owners of Paramount Chimney & Gutter., told Gothamist that the racist driver is a former employee named Brett Caiet, who left the company in February.

"The guy's a scumbag obviously," DiMarco told Gothamist. "The video's disgusting, and we would never condone that behavior. We were going to fire him when he left, then he tried to come back and we wouldn't take him back."

He added, "Is it surprising? I'd say that it's not really surprising."

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