Haarun Galbayte had just completed a food delivery to a home in Shorewood last month when a man exited the house and came toward him as he prepared to leave.
"You need something?" Galbayte recalled saying to the man.
Without warning or explanation, according to Galbayte and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the man punched and elbowed Galbayte three times in the left side of his face while shouting slurs and ordering him to return to his home country.
Attorney Joe Tamburino, who is representing the alleged assailant, denied the allegations and said Galbayte spat in his client's face after the two clashed about where the food had been left.
"My client adamantly denies the charge," Tamburino said. "He never used any racial, ethnic or religious slurs against Mr. Galbayte, and he will vigorously defend this case in court."
Galbayte, 49, is Muslim and immigrated from Somalia. He was working for the food delivery service DoorDash when he was allegedly assaulted about 9:50 a.m. on Oct. 27.
"Still, I don't know," Galbayte said of what was going through his mind at the time. "I'm in shock."
Galbayte recounted the incident at a Thursday news conference at CAIR-Minnesota's Minneapolis office. The organization called for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime.
The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department issued a news release Thursday after CAIR-Minnesota first drew attention to the case. Police confirmed the date and location of the incident — the 5000 block of St. Albans Bay Road — but did not address CAIR-Minnesota's assertions that the alleged attack was "bias-motivated."
"Information received by the police was a food delivery driver had been assaulted by a suspect who was dissatisfied as to where the delivery driver had left the food order," said the police statement.
Michael D. Anderson, 54, was arrested and cited for misdemeanor fifth-degree assault, according to the police and court records. Anderson's arraignment in court is scheduled for Tuesday.
Anderson could not immediately be reached for comment and did not have an attorney listed for his case Thursday. Tamburino reached out to comment Friday.
According to Tamburino: Anderson used DoorDash frequently, and Galbayte had delivered food to his home in the past and "consistently refused" to deliver to the front door.
"[Galbayte's] been rude on other past occasions and he's left coffee and food to sit out on the driveway in the elements," Tamburino said. "On this particular delivery, once again Mr. Galbayte refused to bring the food to the door and threatened to leave the food at the end of the driveway. My client went out to tell Mr. Galbayte that it's his job with DoorDash to bring the food to the door."
The two men exchanged words, Galbayte allegedly spat and Anderson "raised his arm in self-defense and swung his arm" toward Galbayte, Tamburino said, adding that his client never touched Galbayte.
Police have revealed few details about the incident.
"The incident remains under investigation by the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department and the prosecutor's office," the police statement said. "No further information will be released at this time."
Asked if police should have addressed the allegations of bias, CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said he understood that police can be reluctant to reveal details in a pending case. But he also said a more complete picture would have been helpful.
"This was not a simple mistaken placement of food," Hussein said. "That's not an accurate portrayal of exactly what took place here. This [alleged attack] is unacceptable, and we expect the law enforcement agencies to obviously bring the full charges that are appropriate."
Hussein said Galbayte had delivered food to the same home a total of three times, and that on the morning of the alleged attack, a woman had received the order and thanked Galbayte before Anderson confronted him.
"To assault somebody who brought you food who you didn't have any real interaction with is a testament of the kind of hate we are seeing today," Hussein said.
Galbayte recounted that Anderson told him, "Go back to your country."
"I said, 'I came from Eden Prairie,' " Galbayte said. " 'I live there.' And then he said, 'Eden Prairie is not your home. Go back to where you came from.' "
Galbayte, a father of seven who has lived in Minnesota for 22 years, said he was seated in his car when he was attacked. Hussein said Galbayte's window was down, and that after Galbayte was able to drive his car away a neighbor who witnessed the incident came to his aid.
"We're just lucky to have someone, a witness … who courageously came forward," Hussein said, adding that the witness gave his account to police at the scene when Anderson allegedly provided a different version of the events.
Galbayte, who drew parallels between Anderson's alleged words and President Donald Trump's rhetoric, said he came forward so others would not be victimized by hate speech and violence.
CAIR-Minnesota called for authorities to enhance the charges against Anderson and for all police to improve their training on investigating hate crimes. The organization also called for state leaders to improve the state's data collection on such incidents, which are widely believed to go underreported, as Attorney General Keith Ellison embarks on a report on hate crimes for next year's legislative session.
Hussein urged anyone who believes they are the victim of a hate crime to immediately report it to local police and to contact CAIR-Minnesota.
"No one should feel that they are emboldened to harass individuals because they think … they're not going to report it to the police or they may not be brave enough to bring forth their concerns," Hussein said.