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Federal Way man sentenced for hate-crime beating of Sikh cab driver

A Federal Way man was sentenced Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court to 40 months in prison for savagely beating a Sikh cab driver while making racist statements about Muslims.

Jamie Larson, 50, was originally charged with malicious harassment in King County Superior Court, but the case was turned over to federal prosecutors in March because the federal hate crime law carries a longer possible sentence of up to 10 years.

Larson 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.

During Tuesday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour called Larson’s racist comments to the cab driver “some of the most disgusting, ugly and racist language I’ve heard in my 32 years on the bench."

The assault occurred Oct. 17, 2012, in the 1200 block of Southwest 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, according to charing documents. 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. Larson 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.

Larson also 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.

 

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