FW man pleads guilty to hate crime

Mirror staff reports:

A Federal Way man has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime related to the savage beating of a Sikh taxi driver.

Jamie Larson, 49, pleaded guilty June 27 in U.S. District Court to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law criminalizes acts of physical violence that cause bodily injury and are motivated by race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Larson faces up to 10 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5.

The assault occurred Oct. 17, 2012, in the 1200 block of SW 301st Street in Federal Way. Auburn police had asked the taxi driver to take Larson to Federal Way because he was too intoxicated to walk or drive.

The taxi driver, an immigrant from India, said Larson began commenting on the turban he wore as part of his Sikhism religion. Larson began assaulting the taxi driver and making comments regarding his religion and ethnicity, according to a police report.

Larson punched the taxi driver repeatedly in the body and face, and caused one of his teeth to become loose, according to the report. The suspect also ripped part of the cab driver's beard off his face. The piece of beard was found at the scene.

The victim was wearing a turban, kirpana, kara and Kanga, which are all items related to his Sikhism religion. The victim believed he was assaulted because the suspect thought he was a Muslim, according to the police report.

The victim suffered injuries to his back, shoulder and kidney. He was hospitalized for more than a week and has undergone lengthy physical therapy.

At the scene, Larson told officers that he attacked the taxi driver because the driver was "a towel head." Officers reported that the suspect also referred to the victim as an "Iranian, Iraqi, Raghead, Faggot Motherf-----."

The suspect allegedly told an officer at the scene that "We have Americans fighting overseas in his country and why doesn't he go back to there."

Larson's criminal history includes 19 bookings since 1986, along with 34 warrants. Past charges include disorderly conduct, assault, DUI, attempting to elude police, domestic violence assault, malicious mischief and marijuana possession.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commended the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkin, the FBI and the Federal Way Police Department for their investigation of the assault.


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