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WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced Jamie Larson in connection with the racially-motivated assault of a 50-year-old Sikh man. Larson, 50, who pled guilty to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was sentenced to 40 months incarceration. Judge Coughenour said the sentence should send the message that this kind of conduct “is absolutely unacceptable…. Larson used the most disgusting, ugly and racist language that I have heard in 30 years on the bench.”
According to information presented in court, the victim, a taxi driver, drove an intoxicated Larson to a private residence in Federal Way, Washington on October 17, 2012. After arriving at the residence, Larson grabbed the victim by his beard, and struck him in the face and shoulder many times before pushing him to the ground. Larson then repeatedly stomped on the victim’s stomach. During the incident, Larson called the victim a “raghead” and a “towelhead.” He also screamed various comments to the victim, such as “what are you doing here?” and “why did you come to my country?” Larson admitted that he attacked the victim, who is from India and a follower of the Sikh religion, because Larson believed the victim was of Middle Eastern descent or ethnicity.
Larson was arrested at the scene of the attack after a witness called 911. The victim was immediately taken to a hospital and suffered bruising, a loose tooth, sprains and strains to his back and shoulder, and acute kidney failure from the prolonged assault.
“The Department of Justice is fully committed to using all resources at its disposal to thoroughly investigate and vigorously prosecute racially-motivated attacks,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department’s Civil Rights Division Jocelyn Samuels. “Violence based on a person’s race or ethnicity should be an unfortunate vestige of the past, but when these bias-motivated attacks occur, the Civil Rights Division will stand ready to swiftly bring justice for the victims.”
“No one in our community should face hate-based danger. We will use all federal tools to hold defendants accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan, Western District of Washington. “The Pacific Northwest is a diverse community and we will continue to focus our efforts on making sure that diversity is respected and celebrated.”
The Shepard-Byrd law criminalizes acts of physical violence causing bodily injury motivated by any person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
In addition to the prison term, Larson was sentenced to three years of supervised release. He also owes restitution to the victim in an amount to be determined at a later date.
The matter was investigated by the Seattle Division of the FBI. The Federal Way Police Department provided significant support in this prosecution. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce F. Miyake of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Washington and Trial Attorney Nicholas Durham of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section.