A white supremacist was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday for running down and killing a Black man with his Jeep.
Russell Courtier, 40, was found guilty of killing 19-year-old Larnell Bruce Jr. in Oregon in 2016, The Oregonian reported. The jury found Courtier, who is white, guilty of murder, hit-and-run driving, and second-degree intimidation — a hate crime statute under Oregon law, according to the publication.
Courtier and Bruce had fought outside of a convenience store in Gresham, Oregon. Surveillance footage obtained by The Oregonian shows Bruce standing outside the store when Courtier drove up, parked, and picked a fight. The video then shows Bruce running away from Courtier — who reportedly was encouraged to chase the teen by the passenger, and owner of the vehicle, Colleen Hunt — who eventually hit him with the vehicle, according to the publication. The 19-year-old died from his injuries several days after he was hit.
It is unclear what prompted the fight, prosecutor David Hannon said, according to The Oregonian. However, prosecutors said that Courtier was a member of the white supremacist prison gang European Kindred and was motivated by his beliefs to kill Bruce, The Associated Press reported. The Anti-Defamation League states the group is primarily based in Oregon and the primary symbol is a “shield tattoo containing the initials EK.” During the incident, Courtier was wearing the gang’s logo on his hat and had its tattoo on his leg, according to the AP.
Larnell Bruce Sr., the 19-year-old’s father, told the AP he hopes Courtier will spend his time in prison thinking about whether he wants his 8-year-old son to grow up with white supremacist ideology.
“That ideology that you have is not good for anybody,” Bruce told the publication.
Hunt, Courtier’s girlfriend pleaded guilty to manslaughter and accepted a 10-year prison sentence, according to the AP. Hunt wrote an apology letter to the family, stating that she had been “drinking pretty heavily” the night Bruce was killed, The Oregonian reported.
“I wish I made different decisions,” Hunt wrote. “[T]hings got out of control so fast that one thing lead (sic) to another and a life was lost. There are no words to explain this terrible situation and the remorse I feel.”
“I cannot take your pain away but it is my hope to be forgiven by you and by God. From the depths of my soul I am sorry,” she continued.
On Monday, a white man in South Carolina was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to hiring a hitman to kill his Black neighbor. Brandon Cory Lecroy, 26, was arrested last year after an anonymous source tipped off the authorities stating Lecroy had reached out to a white supremacist organization to kill his neighbor, hang him from a tree, and leave a burning cross in his yard, prosecutors told The New York Times.
Lecroy will also receive three years of court-ordered supervision in addition to his sentence, the United States attorney’s office in South Carolina said in a statement to The Times.
There has been an increase of hate crimes in the US for the third year in a row, according to the FBI’s 2017 hate crime report released in November. Hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017; 4,832 single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry, and nearly 49 percent of race-related incidents were “motivated by anti-Black or African American bias,” according to the report.
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.