A Wisconsin man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly intentionally driving into a motorcyclist he believed was white.
Daniel Navarro, 27, was charged last week with first-degree intentional homicide, a hate crime, and use of a dangerous weapon after a crash that resulted in the death of Phillip Thiessen, 55.
Thiessen was found deadon a road over the Fourth of July weekend, following reports of a head-on crash between a pickup truck and a motorcycle. He was a former police officer in Fairfax, Virginia, and had served in the Marine Corps.
“Given the current social climate, the information shared today will undoubtedly lead to future conversation and discussion within our community,” said Fond du Lac County Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt.
Navarro told the police that he has often faced racism due to his Mexican heritage and said that “all the people that caused him these problems in his life are Caucasian or white,” according to Waldschmidt.
“[He] said that if President Donald Trump and white people are going to create the world we are living in, he has no choice and that people are going to have to die,” Waldschmidt said.
Navarro allegedly saw that Thiessen was driving a Harley-Davidson and told police officials that he believes only white people drive such motorcycles and that they are typically “white racists.”
“He chose a motorcycle instead of a car, because he wanted the driver to die, and not just be injured or paralyzed,” Waldschmidt said.
A judge set Navarro’s bail at $1 million and is expected back at court on July 17. He faces life in prison if convicted of all charges. The crash is still reportedly under investigation.
The incident comes as civil unrest, peaceful protests, and riots have spread across the country against police brutality and systemic racism following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day in police custody.