A video shot on April 7 showing two cars weaving through traffic at high speeds on I-85 northbound, with one closely following another, appears at first glance to possibly depict illegal street racing, but what Mark Reilly* saw beforehand convinced him something more sinister was happening. What he then caught on video was a terrifying instance of road rage in Charlotte.
“I was in the fast lane and they passed me on the right going 95 miles per hour, and it looked like he was trying to spin her out,” Reilly told Queen City Nerve, adding that he could tell the man in the rear car was pushing the woman in front because smoke was coming from the cars and pieces of the vehicles were falling off on the highway.
“That’s when I hung up on my business partner and started filming,” Reilly continued.
WARNING: The below video depicts graphic violence against a woman. Her face has been blurred to protect her privacy.
Reilly ended up capturing an assault that put a woman in the hospital, and his video helped put the man in jail.
He followed the two cars off an exit onto Beatties Ford Road and into a convenience store parking lot, where both drivers exited their cars and the man who had been following the 22-year-old woman immediately attacked her, striking her with an open hand and leaving her splayed on the cement before driving off.
The woman, whose identity Queen City Nerve is keeping hidden, suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital by MEDIC for a full examination.
Reilly, who called 911 while the victim called her family, said the victim told him she had no idea who the man was. Though she did not clarify why the suspect was chasing her up the highway, the incident appears to be one of road rage between two strangers.
According to Reilly, CMPD officers who responded to the scene recognized the suspect “instantly.” Within hours, they had arrested 45-year-old Demont Forte and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a female, and hit-and-run.
Officers were familiar with Forte because of his long rap sheet. At the time that he was involved in a standoff with CMPD’s SWAT team in 2017, he had already been arrested more than 40 times. More recently, he’s shown a pattern of assaulting women specifically, including four separate assault arrests within the last six months.
In September 2020, Forte was arrested for assault on a female and assault with a deadly weapon resulting in serious injury. The following month, he was arrested again for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, or attempted murder. In January of this year, Forte was arrested again and charged with assault on a female, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, assault by strangulation and false imprisonment.
Forte was released from the Mecklenburg County Detention Center on April 8, the day after his latest assault. The amount of bail he was ordered to pay is unclear at this time.
According to CMPD spokesperson Blake Page, road rage is hard to track in Charlotte, as CMPD does not include those incidents in their crime statistics. For instance, the April 7 incident will be recorded as an assault and hit-and-run, but there is no mention of road rage in the official report.
However, road rage remains a danger on Charlotte roads and around the country. In November 2020, 35-year-old Ricky Martinez was shot while riding in a friend’s car during a road-rage incident on Billy Graham Parkway.
More recently, a Robeson County man was arrested for the murder of 47-year-old mother of six Julie Eberly during a road-rage incident on March 25. The suspect allegedly shot into the car Eberly was riding in on Interstate 95 because her husband had accidentally changed into Floyd’s lane without seeing him.
When Queen City Nerve reached out to CMPD about the April 7 incident in Charlotte, Page stated he had happened upon a road rage incident on the previous day while in his patrol car.
“Two people were having a very bad day and everything that happened exacerbated that issue,” he recalled.
Though he was able to quash that conflict before it turned violent, road rage remains an underreported risk to drivers and passengers in Charlotte, he said.
Page recommended that anyone who becomes the target of road rage call 911 and, if possible, have the dispatcher direct them to the nearest police station. If that isn’t possible, they should stay in their car, and if they must exit their vehicle, they should make sure to do so in a heavily populated area, he said.
*Name changed for privacy purposes.
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