AFRICANGLOBE – A white couple accused of using a Jeep to purposely run into and kill a Black teenager in August were charged Tuesday with a new crime: targeting the 19-year-old because of his race.
Russell Orlando Courtier, 38, and Colleen Catherine Hunt, 35, were charged with murder last month in the Aug. 10 death of Larnell Malik Bruce.
Police say Courtier, a convicted felon with a long rap sheet, scuffled with the teenager outside a Gresham 7-Eleven and moments later drove his Jeep into Bruce. The two didn’t know each other.
A grand jury on Monday went a step further by indicting Courtier and Hunt with first- and second-degree intimidation, both hate crimes. The two appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court to be formally charged under the new indictment.
Although Courtier was allegedly behind the wheel, Hunt is accused of “aiding and abetting” her boyfriend by accompanying him to the convenience store near 188th Avenue and Burnside Street. Police say she encouraged Courtier to fight Bruce outside the store by yelling “Get him, baby!” But she claimed no involvement in the killing, saying “I was only in the car,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
The latest indictment comes a few weeks after The Portland Mercury wrote a piece that identified Courtier as a member of the white supremacist prison gang European Kindred, also known as “EK.” Courtier’s Facebook page isn’t public, but the Mercury acquired a Facebook photo of Courtier showing an “EK” tattoo on his body.
Prison records also show that Courtier has been a documented member of the supremacist group since at least 2004 and allegedly threw a feces-smeared paper at a minority correctional officer, according to the Mercury.
Gresham police told the Mercury that they were aware of Courtier’s apparent ties to a white supremacist gang before the story ran, but that information didn’t lead to an indictment alleging racial motivations until this week.
Bruce had encountered Courtier and Hunt late on Aug. 9 or very early on Aug. 10.
Bruce’s friend told police that she and Bruce had been charging their cellphones outside the 7-Eleven when Courtier came along and a fight started for reasons that weren’t clear. Bruce and Courtier ended up slamming into a window of the store and cracking the glass, according to the friend’s statement to police.
The affidavit states that the scuffle stopped when Bruce pulled out a machete and walked away. Authorities say Courtier and Hunt got into their Jeep and followed Bruce — even making a U-turn when Bruce started walking in the other direction as he tried to get away.
Police say Courtier drove the Jeep up onto the sidewalk to strike Bruce shortly after midnight on Aug. 10. Police arrived on scene as the Jeep sped away. They found Bruce bleeding from his head and his ears.
The teen was rushed to Oregon Health & Science University, where he died three days later on Aug. 13.
By: Aimee Green