Woman acquitted of ethnic intimidation in striking black man

Associated Press

Grand Rapids – A white woman accused of hitting a black man and using a racial slur at a western Michigan car dealership was convicted of assault Monday but cleared of ethnic intimidation.

An attorney for Shelly Hueckel said she was upset by an appraisal for her car – not race – at a dealership in Lowell last April. Kent County Judge Paul Sullivan agreed, saying she likely would have had a similar reaction with someone who wasn’t African American.

“The problem came when he told her the value of her trade-in vehicle. … That’s when, for lack of a better word, all hell broke out,” the judge said.

Hueckel, a Barry County resident, didn’t testify. The misdemeanor assault conviction carries a maximum punishment of 93 days in jail.

Sullivan told Hueckel: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

The victim, Terrance Smith, said he didn’t understand the judge’s decision.

“How do you do this to a human being and just walk away? … I don’t have any other words,” Smith said of Hueckel.

Assistant Prosecutor Angela Curtis argued that Smith’s race was on Hueckel’s mind during the assault and use of racial slurs.

“You don’t say that word by accident,” Curtis said.

Hueckel left the courthouse without talking to reporters.

“She was angry and she said things she shouldn’t have said. She was uncivil. She acted like a juvenile,” the judge said. “If I were a parent and she was a child, she’d be taken out back and disciplined in some way. … The words caused hurt, and understandably so.”