WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Authorities have arrested two men accused of a committing a hate crime in West Monroe.
Dylan Reynolds and Michael Walters are each facing a charge of "Hate Crime (Felony)" according to court documents. The alleged crime happened at the Walmart Supercenter on November 29th, 2018. Police say the men accosted a black woman at Walmart, intimidating her and damaging her vehicle. Police say they also yelled racial slurs at her during this encounter. (See below for full police account.)
Both men are charged in accordance with Louisiana statute 14.107.2, which can be viewed here.
According to the law, a person can be charged with a hate crime if it is believed they committed one of the below-listed crimes and targeted their victim or their victim's property based on "actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry." Under Louisiana law, targeting a person because he or she is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel is also considered a hate crime.
Crimes which trigger Louisiana's hate crime law are:
"First or second degree murder; manslaughter; battery; aggravated battery; second degree battery; aggravated assault with a firearm; terrorizing; mingling harmful substances; simple or third degree rape, forcible or second degree rape, or aggravated or first degree rape; sexual battery, second degree sexual battery; oral sexual battery; carnal knowledge of a juvenile; indecent behavior with juveniles; molestation of a juvenile or a person with a physical or mental disability; simple, second degree, or aggravated kidnapping; simple or aggravated arson; communicating of false information of planned arson; simple or aggravated criminal damage to property; contamination of water supplies; simple or aggravated burglary; criminal trespass; simple, first degree, or armed robbery; purse snatching; extortion; theft; desecration of graves; institutional vandalism; or assault by drive-by shooting."
If the crime committed is a felony, the suspect will be charged with a felony hate crime. The punishment for a felony hate crime is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in jail. For a misdemeanor, it is a fine of up to $500 and up to 6 months in jail.
Bond for both men is set at $20,000.
The following is what police believe happened during the encounter. The following account is, word-for-word, what investigators wrote on the application for the arrest warrant. (The profanity is not dashed out on the application.)
"On 11/29/2018 the West Monroe Police Department was dispatched to Walmart (1025 Glenwood Drive West Monroe, LA) in reference to a disturbance/property damage call for service. Upon arrival, it was learned a black female victim was terrorized while exiting the store in the parking lot area of the business for no apparent reason. While the victim was leaving the store and attempting to load her purchased items in her vehicle, she was confronted by two white males. While in the parking lot the victim was yelled at and called a “n- - - - -”. The female rushed the items in her vehicle and tried to escape the two white males while they were yelling racial slurs at her. As the victim fled the scene in her vehicle, one of the two white males chased after her on foot while pushing an empty shopping cart. The male violently crashed the shopping cart into the rear end area of the victim’s vehicle as she slowed for “speed bumps” in the parking lot near the front entrance area of the business. That aggravated damage to the victim’s vehicle not only caused her over one thousand dollars in damages to her vehicle but put her safety at risk while driving away from the two aggressors as well. After the damages were performed, both males got into a dark gray Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck and fled the area at a high rate of speed.
"The above-mentioned actions were captured on the Walmart Supercenter’s security footage. The two suspects were identified by social media, anonymous callers, and their personal Facebook pages. The suspects in this investigation are Dylan Reynolds and Michael Walters. The Dodge truck used by the suspects was also located on Reynolds’ Facebook page and identified to be the same vehicle."