Two white men were arrested after being accused of harassing a Black teenager and damaging his car as he drove through a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood.
The alleged incident happened Tuesday just before 6 p.m. in the Lake Forest neighborhood, an upscale area of Seminole County. It was partially recorded on cellphone video by the teen, Jermaine Jones, and shared on Facebook by his father.
Two men identified by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office as Donald Corsi, 52, and Howard Hughes, 61, are seen in the video screaming at Jermaine.
Black Florida teen speaks out after 2 men accused of damaging his carJune 18, 202202:38
One of the men accused Jermaine, 16, of "burning out, racing" through the neighborhood. Jermaine asks the men to back away from him.
"I'm not in your face. Get out of my neighborhood," one man says.
Corsi and Hughes, who were arrested Tuesday, have since posted bond and been released from jail, according to NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando.
In an NBC News interview with Jermaine and his mother, Niko Jones, on Friday, she said her son might be alive because he tried to deescalate the confrontation.
"How could they react this way?" she said. "They were supposed to be the adults in a situation. Turns out my son was the adult in this situation."
The video shows a back window of Jermaine's Mercedes-Benz C230 sedan shattered, with glass littering the backseat and the ground. A large rock is sitting in the middle of the seat. Underneath the broken window, is a big dent in the door.
An arrest report states that Jermaine was driving with a 15-year-old friend when Hughes and Corsi "aggressively approached" their vehicle, "assaulted" them and made "verbal threats."
One of the men hit the car with a large orange traffic cone, putting a dent in the door, according to the report. The other man "threw a large stone with sharp edges into the back seat" while the teens were in the car, the report states. The 15-year-old also told deputies that he was hit with the cone.
Jermaine said Friday that he quickly believed the confrontation was about being a Black teenager in a community the men didn't believe was his.
He said he was told, "Get out of this neighborhood. You don’t belong there," which he took to be said only "because of the color of my skin — because I didn’t make any threats to them."
"I wasn’t putting them in danger," he said, "and I’ve never been in trouble before."
Jermaine's father, Columbus “CJ” Jones, wrote on Facebook that his son and the other teen were in the neighborhood to visit a friend. As the situation escalated, his son tried to drive away but the men "cut him off" and hit the car with a cone, Jones said.
"I wonder where those men picked up those cones and stone? ... What if they were able to run into their house to get armed would they use that instead of the cone and stone?" he wrote. "I am glad no one got hurt. This will definitely leave a scar on my son’s mentality moving forward."
The Jones family has retained a lawyer, Kevin Edwards, who said a civil claim against the suspects was likely to be filed on the family's behalf in the coming weeks. The suit would aim to hold the two accountable, he said.
Hughes and Corsi were both arrested on charges of damage to property — criminal mischief. Hughes faces an additional charge of battery while Corsi faces a weapons offense, according Seminole County Sheriff’s Office arrest reports.
It's not clear if they have obtained attorneys, and they could not be reached at phone numbers listed for them.
Niko Jones sad she wants the men to be held accountable.
"They were acting like vigilantes," she said. "They felt entitled they this is because they felt like they could get away with it."
Jermaine would not say if he spun the sedan's tires or drove in a way that could alarm residents, noting only that in any case "they sort of took it into their own hands."
Lake Forest is a gated community located minutes from downtown Sanford, the same city where Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager, was shot and killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was charged in the murder but was acquitted by a jury.
Jermaine's mother said the killing weighed heavily in her household in recent days.
"The first thing that came to my mind was Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin," Jones said. "We've heard of these things happening all the time. And, you know, I'm just so glad that he stayed calm, and the situation didn't escalate to something different."
Arbery was chased and fatally shot while jogging through a coastal Georgia community known as Satilla Shores in early 2020. The three men responsible for his murder were sentenced to life behind bars in January.
Jones said Black families try to prepare children to avoid violent discrimination.
"We as Black mothers have to have these conversations," she said. "We are in fear."