Was Race a Factor in a Black Man's Dragging Death?

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Oct. 2, 2007 – He was robbed, beaten and dragged.  Now those blamed for a Black, California man’s death are behind bars, while investigators figure out if race played a role in his murder.

Police in Yuba City, Calif., say that on Saturday, Aaron Richard Ouelette 21 and Michael Angelo Sanudo, 20, “brutally assaulted” the man, said to be in his 30s, in an alley.

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Police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey wouldn't say why the men were in the alley, or why the 32-year-old Willie Dean Roberts, Jr., was beaten so badly, but she said the torture he received was horrifying.

"It's just horrific to think any human being could do that," she told The Associated Press.

According to police reports, two Hispanic men ran over Roberts with a pickup truck.  He reportedly got caught under the vehicle and was dragged “a considerable distance” before the men stopped driving and left the truck behind, reports AP.

A witness said she called the police after she heard the commotion near her home. She said she saw the truck’s passengers look out to see if the man was still under the truck, then keep on driving as more neighbors watched and screamed at them. The witness told police that after the suspects ran away, one woman tried to push the truck to get it off the man’s body.

Ouelette and Sanudo are in jail on $1 million bond on suspicion of murder, robbery, gang affiliation and parole violation. Do you think authorities will determine it a hate crime?

Written by BET-Staff

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