*Joseph Paul Leonard Jr., 62, apparently told police while sitting in the back of a patrol car, “Just because we got Obama for a president, these people think they are real special.”
This, after he used his car to run down 34-year-old Toussaint Harrison, who was on his bike.
Leonard is currently on trial for the hate crime of murder.
Media reports claim the incident occurred on June 6, 2013 at 6 a.m. as the victim and another man, Justin Oliphant, were handing out food to homeless people. Yet according to defense attorneys – the men had stolen the food from a nearby hotel.
Leonard is said to have become enraged after a female friend was approached by the men and he allegedly grabbed a chain from his pickup and confronted Harrison, according to the friend. A report says that “surveillance video shows him swinging it around like a lasso over his head.”
[His friend, Samantha] Silva came out of the McDonald’s first and was approached by the two men. She told sheriff’s investigators that one of the two men “asked if she was hungry,” according to one deputy’s testimony. Oliphant testified at Leonard’s preliminary hearing in May that he also may have asked her for a cigarette. While he and Harrison were talking to her, Leonard emerged from the McDonald’s, “and she described that he went crazy and lost his temper,” sheriff’s Detective Pamela Linke testified at the hearing.
Linke said Silva told investigators that Leonard retrieved a chain from the back of his truck and “he was swinging it, trying to hit the boys.”
A videotape from the McDonald’s shows Harrison and Oliphant backing off while Leonard appears to be swinging the chain over his head, lasso style. He got back in his truck and drove out of view before he re-emerged in the picture, with the chain more clearly visible in his hand. He proceeded to stomp on a bicycle that had been ridden by Harrison.
Harrison had not died immediately after the altercation, but died a short time later, and the charge was upgraded to murder.
Leonard is scheduled to testify during the trial, which resumes Nov. 17.