A man charged with attacking a Sikh bus driver he called a terrorist has pleaded not guilty to a hate crime.

City News Service says KC Tard Jr. entered the plea Thursday in Southern California to a felony battery count with a hate crime allegation. He could face up to six years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say the 34-year-old got on a Metro bus last November in south Los Angeles, spotted the driver's beard and turban and began shouting that he was a hijacker and suicide bomber.

Prosecutors say Tard also pummeled the driver in the face after the bus made a stop in Inglewood.

The driver is on paid leave.

Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims, and they have faced attacks and vandalism in the wake of Islamic-extremist attacks.