Russell Courtier white supremacist runs over black teen Larnell Bruce; Was the driving murder predicated on racial bias and hate?
Russell Courtier a 38 year old Oregon man and self described white supremacist has been charged with murder after deliberately running over 19 year old black teen, Larnell Bruce with his Jeep after an altercation outside a local 7-Eleven.
The incident occurred on the evening of August 10 as Larnell Malik Bruce stood outside the convenience store charging his phone on the corner of East Burnside and 188th street in Gresham.
Shortly before midnight, Russell Courtier and his girlfriend, Colleen Hunt, 35 pulled up in their 1991 Jeep Wrangler.
At some point a fight broke out between Courtier and the black teen, with Courtier, a long time member of white supremacist prison gang, European Kindred (EK) grabbing Larnell Bruce and smashing his head into the store’s front window.
At the same time, the man’s girlfriend was observed urging her boyfriend, screaming ‘Get him baby, get him.’
It’s at this point according to a report via the nydailynews that the teen pulled out a knife in a bid to protect himself, sending Courtier and Hunt back into their vehicle.
Video footage then showed Russell Courtier attempting to run the teen as he desperately fled the scene, with Bruce zig zagging in an attempt to elude the pursuing Jeep.
As he tried to cross the street, the couple’s Jeep is seen moving into oncoming traffic and hitting the teenager head-on. Courtier was driving with Hunt in the passenger seat.
Police found Bruce on the street with critical brain injuries. He was taken to hospital but died of his injuries four days later.
A report via the Portland Mercury told of officers having responded to a 911 call from the 7-Eleven at 11.45pm. At the time, the men were physically fighting outside the store.
They arrived within two minutes, but Bruce had already been mown down.
The teenager had only moved to Gresham to live with his mother and younger brother six months before his death.
On August 18, a grand jury indicted Courtier and Hunt for murder.
Both are being held without bail in a Multnomah County jail while also facing an additional felony charge of failing to perform the duties of a driver.
That said, the couple have not been charged with any hate crimes.
In the aftermath of the Larnell Bruce’s murder, calls have been made demanding that Russell Courtier and Colleen Hunt also be charged with a hate crime.
To date, the Multnomah County District Attorney declined to comment on whether Bruce’s murder was racially-motivated, citing an active investigation.
That said according to a report via the dailymail, officials intimated that they were ‘investigating’ all angles.
While no hate crime provisions exist under Oregon law, there are instances where prosecutors can raise charges citing intimidation in the first or second degree.
Also complicating matters is the difficulty in proving beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was motivated by a bias, which may have tempered prosecutors.
Yet to be fully understood is what started the fight between the teen and the couple or why Russell Courtier allegedly chose to mow Bruce down as he was running away. Authorities have yet to publicly release a motive, with witnesses at the scene told police they didn’t know of one.
Courtier is a notorious white supremacist and prison gang leader with a lengthy criminal record.
He has the European Kindred’s shield tattooed on his calf.
In 2011, he avoided punishment for illegally shooting rounds from his car because police had performed an illegal search.
A year later, he got only probation for smashing a woman’s head against a windshield.
Bruce’s family have since set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the cost of medical bills and his funeral expenses last month. So far $6000 of a $50 000 goal has been donated.
On Thursday, the family are having a public gathering to celebrate Bruce’s life – on what would have been his 20th birthday – at the Rosewood Community Center in Portland at 7pm.