A white man is being held in a Sacramento jail after fatally running over a black man who was handing out food to the homeless.
Joseph Paul Leonard Jr. did not hesitate to place blame the day he ran over and killed 34-year-old Toussaint Harrison on Arden Way.
“Just because we got Obama for a president, these people think they are real special,” Leonard said, while sitting in the back of a sheriff’s patrol car after his arrest for his vehicular assault.
The videotape of him in the patrol car was played in Sacramento Superior Court on Thursday. Other evidence at Leonard’s racially motivated hate-murder trial that got underway this week showed that he burned 23 feet of rubber before he smashed his 1997 green Chevy S-10 into Harrison.
With Harrison lying bleeding and broken on the pavement, Leonard got out of his truck – and kicked him several times in the head with his steel-toed work boots, witnesses said. Two days after the June 6, 2013, assault, Harrison died of his injuries at UC Davis Medical Center.
Leonard, 62, also faces attempted murder charges for also trying to run over Toussaint’s friend Justin Oliphant. The second count contains the same allegation that he launched the attack “because of the victim’s status and perceived ethnicity.”
A homeless woman told authorities that the two men asked her if she was hungy as she exited McDonald’s. Oliphant testified at a preliminary hearing in May that he may have asked her for a cigarette. White he and Harrison were talking to her, Leonard emerged from the McDonald’s. The witness says he “went crazy and lost his temper.”
A videotape from the establishment shows Harrison and Oliphant backing off as Leonard swings a chain over his head, lasso style. He got back in his truck and drove out of view before re-emerging in the picture with the chain more clearly visible in his hand.
He proceeded to stomp on Harrison’s bike as he used a racial epithet during his confrontation with the two black men.
During the altercation, one of the men threw a knife at Leonard and another threw another sharp object at him. Leonard suffered an abrasion to his midsection and a lacerated cheek.
The men left the premises after the fight, and headed through the parking lots on the north side of Arden. Leonard first tried to run over Oliphant, and succeeded in ramming into Harrison in front of a repair shop.
Leonard said he feared for his life, and that he “is victimized every time he turns around.”
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