Betten Baker GMC salesman physically assaulted in racist incident
In April, a Lowell used car salesman was assaulted by an apparently racist customer who slapped him across the face and used the "n word” repeatedly when he didn't offer her what she thought was enough money for a trade-in vehicle.
The incident occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday, April 24 at Betten Baker GMC, 749 W. Main when a man and woman in their 40s came into the dealership with a truck they were considering trading in toward another potential vehicle purchase.
“I was working with a customer who came in with a vehicle and just wanted to know what their trade-in was worth,” said Betten Baker sales consultant Terrance Smith. “I said, 'Okay,' I get that sometimes. They had a 2005 Ford F150. We got the vehicle appraised, and it appraised at $3,500. I came back out to tell them that the vehicle appraised at $3,500 and she said, 'Well, another place was giving $5,500,' and the husband chimed in and said, 'Another place was giving us $5,100.' The lady called me a scammer, and I was like, 'Oh, okay, whatever.' Her title was inside on my desk, and she said, 'Take your scammin' black ass back inside and go get my title.' I said, 'You're not going to talk to me that way, if you want your title you can go get it yourself.' I was taking off, walking back inside the building. I got inside, and she was behind me. I handed her the title and she backhanded me. She hit me so hard it knocked the glasses off my face. She was still swinging and hitting me, and then she called me the 'n word' three or four times. Then her and her husband left and we called the police. The officer was like, 'Are you sure you don't know this lady?' because he couldn't believe that she did this just because I told her what her trade-in was worth.”
According to a copy of the police report obtained from Smith, LPD officer James Reamsma made phone contact with the woman implicated in the incident, Shelly Lynn Hueckel, a 47-year-old resident of Nashville, MI.
“I explained to her the reason for my call and she stated she was the one who was at the dealership,” Reamsma's report states. “I asked if she had gotten into an argument with the salesman. She stated that she did not really call him names. She later stated that he had called her 'an ignorant bitch' and she told him 'get your lazy black ass inside and give me my title, I'm not buying from you.' She also stated that she may have said, 'You're a lazy nigger.' I asked her if she had struck him and she stated that she 'slid [through] to grab her title and he bumped against her.' When told she had struck him and knocked off his glasses, she stated, 'In the heat of the moment, I may have.'
Officer Reamsma spoke on the phone with Hueckel again a couple hours later.
“She asked me if his glasses were broken and I told her no, they had been knocked off his face,” Reamsma's report states. “She stated if they were broken, she would pay for them. She stated she wanted to straighten this out and make it right. I asked why she would pay for glasses if she did not break them. She stated she was wondering if he was just taking her to court to pay for his glasses. She also stated she did not realize she hit them off his face.”
Hueckel was charged with assault and battery but not a hate crime, despite her use of racist words and phrases. The Kent County prosecutor assigned the case, Amol Huprikar, did not respond to the Ledger's request for comment about the case. On May 14, Hueckel turned herself in at the Lowell Police Department. The next hearing in the case is for “pre-trial” on Tuesday, June 25 at 9 am.