Joseph Leonard, after allegedly running down and killing a 34-year-old black man named Toussaint Harrison, then getting out his truck as the stricken man — who had been handing out food to homeless people in a McDonald’s parking lot — lay in a broken heap and savagely kicking Harrison in the head repeatedly with a steel-toed boot, told police exactly who he felt was responsible for the horrifying crime. And it wasn’t himself.
He blamed Barack Obama.
“Just because we got Obama for a president, these people think they are real special,” the 62-year-old told Sacramento police officers as he rode in the back of a squad car following his arrest for the brutal killing, which prosecutors say was motivated by Leonard’s racial hatred of blacks.
Leonard also told the arresting officers that he is “tired” of being “victimized every time I turn around,” The Sacramento Bee reported.
A tape of Leonard talking to cops in the squad car was revealed last Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, where Leonard is now on trial for the hate crime, as well as for also attempting to run down the man Harrison was with at the time, Justin Oliphant.
In both charges, prosecutors charge that Leonard attacked each man “because of the victim’s status and perceived ethnicity.”
“You know, I think people are getting tired of being abused by the situation, the way people are being,” Leonard is heard to say in the police car videotape. “I myself am tired of it. I am victimized every time I turn around.”
Prosecutors also showed evidence that Leonard sped for 23 feet, leaving tire burns on the pavement, before plowing his 1997 green Chevy S-10 into Harrison.
The incident began in the early evening of December 8, 2012, when Harrison and Oliphant began handing out food that they had obtained from a nearby hotel to homeless people in a McDonald’s parking lot. But when Leonard’s female companion, Samantha Silva, was approached by the men, Leonard “went crazy and lost his temper,” according to what Silva told investigators.
Leonard grabbed a metal chain and swung it violently at the men, using a racial epithet, according to testimony by Oliphant. During this confrontation the men threw a knife and a broken bottle at Leonard, injuring his face.
Harrison and Oliphant then tried to run away, but Leonard chased them down in his truck, first attempting to hit Oliphant, then running down Harrison, who died in a hospital from his injuries two days later.
“If those punks wanted bad, they got bad,” Leonard said on the police videotape. “I became the aggressor.”
Leonard plans to testify in his own defense. According to his defense lawyer, he claims that the two men stole the food they were distributing from the nearby hotel and he was attempting to perform a citizen’s arrest.