No criminal charges will be filed against the woman who became an Internet celebrity after video of her delivering a racist rant against a black motorist went viral earlier this week, Cheektowaga police said today.
However, because of the emotional and sometimes threatening responses that people online had to the video, and because some individuals posted links containing the woman’s personal information and address, her children have been temporarily placed in the care of family members for their safety, police said.
“It wasn’t because of the mother so much as it was fear of retaliation,” said Cheektowaga Assistant Chief Jim Speyer.
By 8 p.m. Friday, the YouTube video, posted Tuesday night under the heading “Blatant Racism in Cheektowaga, N.Y.,” had been watched more than 7.5 million times and had been referenced on scores of websites around the world, from the Huffington Post and USA Today to British papers and Reddit.
The video, recorded May 30, shows the continuation of an encounter between an agitated woman who has been identified as Janelle Ambrosia and a man who is in the driver’s seat of his truck in the Airport Plaza parking lot.
He is heard asking the woman why, before he started recording her with his cellphone, she had called him the n-word.
She responds angrily that he had scared her children (when he started his truck), and eventually she launches into a profanity-laden tirade peppered with the n-word and various threats.
The only real physical threat on the video is when she says she will throw the contents of her large coffee at him.
Two children, a boy and a girl, watch in the background.
Because of the tremendous amount of public attention to the video, Cheektowaga police conferred with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office before issuing a statement Friday saying that the woman will not face charges of harassment or anything else for her tirade against the driver, Narvell Benning.
Police say they watched the video and spoke to Benning about the matter before making their decision.
Speyer said Benning did not come forward with a complaint but that when contacted by police, “He indicated that if it was deemed appropriate, he wouldn’t mind if we pressed charges.”
In the end, investigators concluded that, although the woman’s comments were “highly offensive, it did not reach the threshold of constituting a crime.”