An Oregon man and his girlfriend are now facing new hate crime charges after they allegedly intentionally ran over a black teen, killing him, following an altercation in a convenience store parking lot, the Associated Press reports.
Russell Courtier, 38, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of first- and second-degree intimidation in the death of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce. Courtier’s girlfriend, 35-year-old Colleen Hunt, who was in the passenger seat of Courtier’s vehicle, allegedly egging Courtier on as he chased down the teen, also pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree intimidation.
As AP notes, under Oregon’s hate crime statute, a charge of intimidation means that defendants are accused of harming victims based on race, color, religion or disability.
Both Courtier and Hunt had already pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Bruce’s death.
Investigators had acknowledged earlier that Courtier, who has an extensive criminal history, is associated with the European Kindred, a white supremacist prison gang. However, at that time, Gresham, Ore., Police Detective Aaron Turnage said that there was no clear indication that the attack was motivated by race.
“Anything like this, we have to be very careful in looking at motive before we just assume something that may seem very clear to other people,” Gresham police spokesperson Officer John Rasmussen said, according to AP. “We have to be sure to tie it in correctly to where it could withstand a court trial.”
According to the newswire, additional investigation prompted a grand jury to reindict the couple Monday.
It is still unclear what started the fight between Courtier and Bruce on Aug. 10 outside a Gresham 7-Eleven. However, after Bruce was seen on surveillance footage pulling a machete before beginning to walk away from the scene, Courtier got into his red Jeep Wrangler and started chasing the teen before running him over, authorities said.
Hunt, his girlfriend, allegedly egged on Courtier as he chased the teen, saying, “Get him, baby, get him, baby.”
Bruce died three days after being hit.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.