STOW, Ohio — A white Stow resident is facing charges after he was allegedly filmed hurling racial slurs at a Black woman and threatening to kill her during an incident earlier this month that has since gone viral on social media.
James Thomas Rhodes, 53, is charged with ethnic intimidation, a fifth-degree felony; and aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor, Stow Municipal Court records show.
The incident happened on April 17 in the 3700 block of Wyndham Ridge Drive.
Court records state that Rhodes yelled profanities and racial slurs at the woman and threatened her by saying he had an AK-47 and "would blow her ****ing head off," according to court records.
It's unclear what precipitated the exchange, though at one point in the video, Rhodes says the woman was "driving erratically."
One of the videos provided to News 5 shows another woman coming to the Black woman's defense, telling Rhodes, "You're acting erratically." Rhodes then hurls curses and racist slurs at that woman. She asks someone off-camera to call the police.
"What are they — going to come arrest me?" Rhodes yells out in response.
Rhodes was later arrested.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was released from custody after posting a $10,000 bond.
The case has been bound over to a grand jury for further consideration.
The mother of the woman whom Rhodes directed the slurs at said her daughter "is a single mommy and she does all she can to care for her son....and this makes me proud....how well she handled this situation."
The mother thanked the City of Stow, Stow Police and Wyndham Apartments for taking action.
"I am thankful for the way this was handled," she said. "It's sad that in 2021 this is even happening BUT the amount of support my daughter has received is overwhelming and so wonderful."
The city of Stow released the following statement regarding the incident:
"We are well aware of a video that has surfaced which captured an unfortunate and despicable incident in our city on April 17, 2021. Upon learning of the incident, The Stow Police Department immediately began an investigation which concluded earlier today. I would like to commend Stow Police Chief Jeff Film and his team of officers for working swiftly and accurately in their handling of this occurrence. I can confirm that the individual involved has been formally charged with ethnic intimidation and aggravated menacing.
As a Stow resident for over 25 years, it saddens me to think that this incident could in any way define our city for those who are otherwise unfamiliar with Stow. The community that I know and love absolutely condemns the behavior displayed on the video and, instead, chooses the principles of kindness, tolerance and inclusivity to guide our daily actions and beliefs. Let me be clear – there is no place for violence, racism or intolerance in the city of Stow. We take great pride in creating a welcoming atmosphere for all people and actively celebrate our diversity.
In July 2020, Stow City Council passed a resolution affirming our commitment to actively promote racial equality in all city operations and decisions. Additionally, we have partnered with Stow-Munroe Falls City School District to engage in dialogue and listening sessions related to the topic of racism and equity. This work is far from complete and continues today. I encourage our residents to join City leaders in the fight against racism by becoming involved in local opportunities and initiatives aimed at raising awareness and changing attitudes and perspectives.
The city of Stow is a wonderful place to live, raise a family and retire. We will continue to work hard to ensure ALL people have access to this goal."
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