Federal prosecutors charged a white man with two counts of assault in what they say was a bicyclist’s racially motivated attack on a black motorist in Georgetown during an August traffic dispute.

In D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, Maxim Smith, 25, of Northwest Washington, pleaded not guilty to one charge of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault with significant bodily injury while armed. Each of those charges includes a hate crime enhancement, which can result in a harsher punishment. He also pleaded not guilty to destruction of property.

According to prosecutors, Smith was biking slowly through the 3100 block of M Street in Georgetown on Aug. 6 in front of a driver who became angry and began honking his horn.

As the driver passed Smith, authorities say Smith reached out and hit the car trunk with an object. When the driver stopped his car and threatened to call police, prosecutors say Smith tried to pedal away. The driver then grabbed the bike while attempting to call 911. Authorities say Smith then repeatedly called the driver the n-word and struck him in the head with a U-lock.

The victim was hospitalized and received 18 stitches and several staples.


Maxim Smith leaves court on Jan. 3, 2019, in Washington. (Keith L. Alexander/The Washington Post)

After his arrest, Smith was released from jail and placed on GPS monitoring and regular drug testing. At Thursday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Korba argued Smith should be jailed because he tested positive for drugs.

A court supervising officer testified Smith twice tested positive for cocaine and also allowed the battery on his GPS ankle bracelet to die. Judge Kimberley Knowles declined to order Smith to return to jail but said she would consider such an order if future drug tests came back positive.

Knowles also ordered Smith to agree to enter an outpatient drug treatment program. The court supervising officer said Smith had previously declined to enroll in such a program.

Korba said prosecutors were concerned about the drug use because evidence showed Smith might have been intoxicated the evening of the assault.

Korba also said his office offered Smith a plea deal, agreeing that if he pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors would drop all remaining charges, including the hate crime enhancements.

Smith, standing next to his attorney, declined to accept the plea deal. Another hearing was scheduled for Feb. 1.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Smith, accompanied by his father, declined to comment. Smith hopped on a bicycle that he had chained to the bike rack outside the building and rode off.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect name for a prosecutor. He is Jack Korba, not Jack Korr. This story has been updated.