DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - An Atlanta businessman says he could have been killed when federal agents and DeKalb County officials mistook him for a fugitive.
Jeff Keller owns a transport business and was heading to pick up a load when U.S. Marshals and DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies surrounded him at gunpoint while he was driving on Interstate 285 during rush hour October 16.
"Seem like a gun was at every window of my car. One was at the front, both sides, and two at the rear. I was scared to move because if I had sneezed, I could have been dead," Mr. Keller recalled.
Mr. Keller says the deputies and agents were so aggressive, they did not allow him to put his oversized truck in park and it subsequently hit one of the patrol cars.
Assistant Deputy Chief for the United States Marshal Service Southeastern division Dan Hall says misidentifications like this happen all the time.
"Sometime in the world of hunting fugitives, you interact with someone you may think is the fugitive but turns out not to be. It's unfortunate but there is no other way to do it. I realize it is an inconvenience, but there is no other way to do it," Hall says.
"The 54-year-old husband and father says the traffic stop was scary, humiliating and downright wrong. The former Fulton County Sheriff's deputy and Navy veteran says he looked nothing like the fugitive the feds were looking for.
The feds tell FOX 5 News a deputy marshal was surveying the house where the real fugitives, Michael Arthur Nixon, was staying. Mr. Keller lives next door.
Mr. Keller says something needs to change. His truck was physically damaged and his transmission stripped, his business could suffer because he had logos on the vehicle during the 2.5 hour stop.
In his mind, Mr. Keller says it boils down to race.
"I was a black suspect as usual and I let one of the U.S. Marshals know that...I felt like they just saw a black man and pulled me over.
The business owner has hired an attorney and is keeping his options open for seeking justice.