ROCK ISLAND - The facts surrounding an alleged hate crime involving a Sikh Uber driver remain in dispute, with the driver claiming a gun was put to his head and he was threatened with racist speech while an attorney representing the alleged suspect says there was no gun involved.
On the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 16, members of the Sikh Coalition, a national organization that defends Sikh civil rights, held a media briefing to lay out their version of events.
A Quad Cities Uber driver says a passenger put a gun to his head after telling him “I hate turban people” on Sunday, January 28.
The driver, Gurjeet Singh, wears a religiously mandated Sikh turban and beard.
According to Singh’s lawyers, Singh picked up a man at 10:39 p.m. on Jan. 28 in the alley next to Casey’s Tavern in Moline, Ill.
During the trip, the passenger reportedly got “visibly angry and put a gun to Mr. Singh’s head,” said Singh’s lawyer. “I hate turban people,” said the passenger.
News 8 has been contacted by the passenger's attorney who says there was never a gun.
However, Singh's attorneys say they are sticking by his story.
"The attacker in this case was directly focused on Mr. Singh's turbin, his beard the fact that he's from a different country originally and put a gun to his head, that is a hate crime," said Amrith Kaur, Legal Director Sikh Coalition.
In another twist to the case, it will now be turned over to the Illinois State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutors Office in Springfield, IL.
The Rock Island County State's Attorney, John McGehee released a statement saying there was a conflict of interest within the attorney's office, "The conflict cannot be publicly disclosed at this time so that the process is fair to all involved," said McGehee.
Kaur, however, said the coalition has not been informed what the conflict of interest is.
“We refuse to hypothesize about what the conflict of interest inside the Rock Island State’s Attorney Office is, but it’s fair for all of us to wonder why this very straightforward hate crime case has dragged on for three weeks without an arrest and hate crime charges,” she said. “We thank Sheriff Bustos for handing over the investigation today, but this case is far from over as we continue to demand justice in Gurjeet Singh’s case.”