PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Attorneys claim a Bahamian man was stabbed in the face in what they call a racist act. However, the suspect's lawyer is calling the incident an act of self-defense.
"The young man nearly took my life," Harold Williams told Local 10 News.
Williams spent about a week in the hospital after he was stabbed in the face.
According to Williams, he was on his way to the airport March 16 after receiving treatment in South Florida and pulled over to use the restroom at Pines Market in Pembroke Pines.
"It is very clear that my client was not armed," attorney Jasmine Rand said.
Williams said he entered the building, which was only occupied by workers, and asked to use the restroom.
Williams said the employees told him he could, but he only made it to the edge of the counter before one of the employees stabbed him with a knife.
"I didn't say anything to him. I just said, 'Sorry, I wanted to use the restroom,'" Williams said.
According to a police report, surveillance video from the sandwich shop shows Williams backing away with his hands up after being stabbed.
Pembroke Pines police later took Fawaz Hassan, 24, into custody on a charge of aggravated battery.
A sign inside the Pines Market reads, "No public restroom. Do not cross beyond this point."
Williams said he doesn't recall seeing the sign the day of the incident.
"What exactly motivated Fawaz Hassan to stab my client in the face?" Rand asked.
Attorneys for Williams claim the crime was racially motivated and they might have evidence to prove it.
Hassan's attorney, however, said the incident was not racially motivated but occurred because Hassan believed he needed to defend himself.
Attorneys for Williams want Hassan to be charged with attempted murder or manslaughter.
They also want the other employee inside the business at the time to be charged.
Williams' attorneys said they plan to meet with Hassan's attorneys in the near future.