A man accused of racially profiling a Black worker in a Tennessee parking garage with his white mom has been charged with assault after a video of the altercation went viral on social media, the Nashville Metro police said.
According to an arrest warrant filed Dec. 2, Edward Brennan took a swing at Johnny Martinez, who was checking cars for parking permits in the Nashville garage, after his mom called the police because Martinez refused to show them identification. “A reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative,” causing Martinez to fear “imminent bodily injury, the warrant states.
Martinez told The Daily Beast that he was working in the River House apartment building’s parking garage on the evening of Nov. 27, when he saw the white mother and son monitoring him.
“As I was doing my rounds…I noticed people watching me,” he explained.
As he continued to work, Martinez said he tried to avoid the pair until the mother allegedly told him, “You don’t belong here. How did you get here?”
In a video originally posted on YouTube, Martinez can be seen filming the mother and son as they question him. Brennan tells Martinez that he will call the police, and the mother—identified as “Bitsy”—asks for Martinez’s identification. Brennan then walks toward a car off-camera while the mother continues pestering Martinez.
When the son comes back on camera, he strikes Martinez, knocking a bottle opener off his keychain. Martinez told The Daily Beast that when he went to pick it up, Brennan allegedly tried to attack him again.
“When he attacked me, he swung, he almost hit me in the face,” Martinez said. “He broke this bottle opener off of my keys. When I went to go pick it up, he lunged.”
Martinez said that he waited for the police to show up, but the mom and son left. When reached for comment, Edward Brennan hung up on The Daily Beast.
Martinez explained that he worked for a booting company that has hundreds of contracts with properties across Nashville. His job was to make sure that vehicles at those properties had permits to park at those locations.
“If they didn’t have a permit, we would immobilize the vehicle. We would put a boot on it,” he said.
He explained that he thinks it’s normal for people to be curious about what he’s doing while checking cars. But with his large headlamp, knee pads, and lanyard, he should appear official enough for people to believe he’s working.
River House apartments declined to comment on the matter.
Martinez said that he was more shocked than anything about the incident, which left him feeling anxious days later.
“I felt like crap,” he said. “I thought I was going to have a typical Karen moment.”