An Atlanta man pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday for attacking a food delivery driver and trying to strangle her with her own head scarf, but he won’t spend a day in prison.
Rick Painter was sentenced to two years in prison for false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery for the May 2018 attack, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said. However, he was credited with 14 months served in jail, and judge Kimberly Adams commuted the rest of his sentence, setting him free.
Sonya King, who works for DoorDash, was making a delivery at a house on South Grand Avenue in northwest Atlanta when Painter told her to leave the food on the counter, AJC.com previously reported. He then told her he’d give her a cash tip as she was walking to the door.
However, as he was going through his wallet, he told her, “Oh, and by the way, I’m Jesus,” before coming up behind her and grabbing her niqab, a veil worn by some Muslim women in public.
“He's grabbing me and trying to choke me with my own niqab,” King told Channel 2 Action News shortly after the incident. “I kept telling that man I've got kids. In the midst of me fighting him, he's grabbing my head. He thought he was Jesus, but Jesus wouldn't do that to nobody.”
She used her finger to poke his eye and her car keys to hold him off until she was able to get away and call 911. Police initially arrested Painter on battery charges, which were later upgraded to aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges, AJC.com previously reported.
After the sentencing was announced, the Georgia chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) released a statement thanking the DA’s office for finding Painter guilty of a felony, but the advocacy group criticized the lack of prison time.
“Although we respectfully disagree with the decision to set this dangerous man free after he served only fourteen months in jail, we hope that law enforcement will take appropriate measures to ensure that he does not continue to pose a threat to the public, especially other women who wear hijabs,” CAIR-Georgia said.
The statement also praised King’s “courage and resilience” in fighting off Painter’s attack.
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