Mexican American man charged with hate crime in fatal crash
FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A Mexican American man from Wisconsin is charged with homicide as a hate crime because prosecutors say he intentionally crashed his pickup truck into a motorcyclist and killed the man because he was white.
Daniel Navarro, 27, of Fond du Lac, told investigators he had been harassed by co-workers and neighbors, and poisoned, drugged and verbally attacked by white people because of his race, authorities said.
The Associated Press left a message Friday seeking comment from Navarro’s lawyer.
Phillip Thiessen, 55, was killed July 3 in the town of Taycheedah. He was a retired special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and a former police officer.
Navarro apparently didn’t know Thiessen, but targeted him because he was white, said Fond du Lac County Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt.
“Navarro 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 is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety, both as hate crimes.
According to the criminal complaint, a sheriff’s sergeant spoke with Navarro at the crash scene and Nararro stated that he intentionally crashed head-on into the motorcycle. The sergeant asked Navarro if he heard him correctly about the crash being intentional and Navarro responded “yes, it was intentional, sir,” the complaint said. A deputy at the scene described Navarro as having a “thousand-yard stare.”
During an interview later at the sheriff’s office, Navarro said he wanted to go to prison for the rest of his life so he could be free from his neighbors, who he could hear making racist comments through the walls of his house, according to the complaint. It also stated that he said he wanted to be free from people who drive by his house, rev their engines and squeal their tires to make him angry.
Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Robert Wirtz set bail at $1 million during an initial court appearance Thursday.
Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney said Navarro’s crime it not reflective of the entire community.
“One of the witnesses, recognizing that the victim was deceased, stayed with him until first responders could arrive, and that I think speaks more to the character of our community than the charges in the criminal complaint,” he said.
The complaint also said a detective reviewed law enforcement records and learned of a 2019 disorderly conduct domestic violence allegation involving Navarro in the City of Fond du Lac. Officers attempted to have a 72-hour mental health hold placed on Navarro but the request was denied by the crisis hotline, the document said.