Hugh Newell

THE WHITE SUPREMACIST prison gang member who admitted to running over and killing a black teen this summer almost certainly “cannot be rehabilitated.” That’s what a Multnomah County prosecutor wrote last week, in a court filing announcing the state’s decision to seek the harshest possible sentence should Russell Courtier be convicted on murder and hate crime charges.

In August, career criminal Courtier and his girlfriend, Colleen Hunt, allegedly mowed down 19-year-old Larnell Bruce, who was running away from their Jeep on foot near a Gresham 7-Eleven. Courtier, 38, and Bruce had briefly fought outside the store.

Following his indictment for murder in August, the Mercury first reported that Courtier was a member of a white supremacist prison gang called European Kindred (August 22 blog post, August 29 news story) . He has an “EK” logo tattooed on his leg, and prison discipline records obtained by the Mercury show he’s been a documented member of the group since at least 2003. His involvement in the gang is among the 40 “major” discipline violations he’s racked up in prison.

Following those revelations, Multnomah County prosecutors sent the case back to a grand jury, which re-indicted Courtier and Hunt with additional hate crime counts, alleging that they murdered Bruce at least in part because of his race.

And just last week, prosecutors informed the court they are seeking a “dangerous offender” status for Courtier, and filed an “upward departure notice” seeking a sentence beyond what state guidelines suggest, should he be convicted (read the document). Among other circumstances, that request is based on the fact Courtier was on supervised release from prison when he killed Bruce, is a member of a white supremacist gang and killed a black man, and that it’s likely “the defendant cannot be rehabilitated.”

It’s an interesting time for officials to come to that conclusion. Courtier received minimal punishment for a violent assault just last year.

After being released from prison in January 2015—he’d punched and attacked a female stranger with a knife in December 2013 (see below)—Courtier was scheduled for supervised release through next April. But Courtier’s Multnomah County probation and parole file, obtained by the Mercury in an open records request, show Courtier violated his post-prison supervision again and again in the 19 months between his release and when he allegedly killed Bruce. And it appears he was let off the hook for a crime that otherwise could have put him behind bars again, 11 months before he killed Bruce.

According to a September 2015 police report (read that here), Courtier was drunk at a Gresham bar when he grabbed a pool ball and bashed a man in the head repeatedly, rendering him bloody and unconscious. The report says Courtier was presenting himself as a Marine at the time—though he was never in the military—and became upset when the guy, an actual veteran, called him a “fake Marine.” Courtier told police that the other man attacked first, but he couldn’t explain why he had no injuries and his adversary was beaten to a pulp.

On the same day Gresham police forwarded the case against Courtier for the beat down, court records show Multnomah County prosecutors dropped the assault charges. Five days later, however, parole records say Courtier “admitted the allegations” to his parole officer (read the document here) and “accepted the sanction” for parole violations—both because he’d been drinking and because he didn’t “obey all laws.” For the violent attack, Courtier got 12 days in jail followed by 60 days with an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.

Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney David Hannon, who’s prosecuting Courtier for running down Bruce, declined to discuss with the Mercury why the 2015 assault charges went away.

It wasn’t Courtier’s only violent offense while under county supervision. Less than two months before the pool-ball attack, Courtier and his brother were walking late at night. A Gresham police officer saw Courtier’s brother punch a passing skateboarder, knocking him to the ground, according to the report. Both Courtiers were drunk, it says.

In April 2016, Courtier and Hunt were busted by the Oregon State Police for illegally fishing in a closed reservoir without licenses. Courtier was hammered, with empty beer cans in the boat, per the report, and had what he said were “THC pills” in his pocket. He’d spend six days in jail for a parole violation.

Four months later, Courtier and Hunt killed Bruce. A trial is scheduled for next summer.

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A December 2012 report from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, recently obtained by the Mercury, details the incident that put Courtier in prison and on supervised release again.

Courtier and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Gerhardus were admittedly drunk (and a sergeant believed they were high on meth) and pummeled a woman who was waiting for a train at the Clackamas Town Center MAX platform.

The two told cops they believed the woman was “teasing” Gerhardus. The woman told cops she was minding her own business, laughing with a friend of hers on her way home from working at the mall, unaware of Courtier and Gerhardus.

Witnesses said no words were exchanged between Gerhardus and the victim before she “threw an overhand right punch” to her face, and then “attack(ed) and beat” her “with a flurry of strikes.”

That’s when Courtier stepped in—not to stop his girlfriend, but to take over the beating. He pulled out a knife, opened the blade, “and began grabbing and punching” the woman. He took the woman’s electronic stun-gun she kept for self-defense, and pointed it towards a man trying to intervene.

Officers soon arrived.

“Both subjects began to get verbally aggressive, as they did not appear to to like being commanded by police,” a sergeant wrote. “The female began yelling at me in a loud voice, and this agitated the male to become angry as well. Both subjects went from calm to upset in a matter of seconds… As the subject was becoming upset, I placed him in handcuffs. This enraged the female subject and she yelled at me louder."

In custody, here’s how the officer describes the interaction with Courtier (emphasis ours):

I asked Courtier to explain what had occurred on the transit platform. Courtier spoke in a very excited carefree manner. He would skip from point to point due to his intoxication. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine. Courtier told me they were walking up onto the transit platform. He told me, “The girls were laughing.” He told me (Gerhardus) said “What the fuck you laughing at!” He told me the (victim) yelled, ‘Fuck you bitch!” He told me, “They both went at it.” Courtier told me, “I went like, woah!” At this point, Courtier was finished explaining the incident. I explained to Courtier was much more to the story, as witnesses mention he had pulled out a knife in the middle of the initial altercation. Courtier told me, ‘Yes, I pulled the knife out.’ I told him the witnesses told me he opened the blade and held the knife out. Courtier told me he did not open the blade of the knife. I asked Courtier if he took the taser from the other woman. He told me, “Yes, I took the taser.” I asked Courtier if he had pointed the taser at another person. Courtier told me he pointed the taser at a guy and told him, “Back the fuck off dude!” I asked Courtier if he had been using methamphetamine. He told me he had not. I asked him if he had been drinking alcohol. He told me they were drinking at her sister’s house. He told me he had 4 beers.

In custody and in separate nearby cells, Courtier and Gerhardus made a scene, intentionally vomiting on the floor. Per the report:

Both were yelling terms of endearment back and forth through the cell doors. Both subjects appeared to be under the influence of intoxicating substance. As we completed report forms, both subjects continued to yell and kick the cell doors, trying to agitate the situation. I could hear Courtier blowing his nose against the floors and walls. Both were handcuffed, but had access to the toilets in the cells. I could hear Gerhardus tell Courtier she was going to purposely vomit on the floor. She commenced to doing this and they both laughed about not using the toilet and her vomiting on the floor of the cell. They continued to agitate themselves regarding the incident. They were both yelling back and forth. Courtier yelled out to Gerhardus, ‘I fucking should have cut the shit outa that bitch! Huh!” Gerhardus responded, “yeah!”

And later:

As I was completing my report forms, I again heard Courtier and Gerhardus banging and kicking the doors to agitate us. The mood swings were characteristics of alcohol and meth use. I heard Courtier tell Gerhardus he was going to vomit on the floor. Gerhardus told him to go for it. I heard Courtier vomit several times on the floor. They both started laughing about the matter. I opened Courtier’s cell and noted about a 1 foot in diameter pile of vomit. This was in the middle of the floor wih the open and accessible toilet about 3 feet away...

I loaded both in the back of my patrol car to transport to the Clackamas County jail. Courtier thought it would be funny to defecate in his pants, while in the back of my patrol car.

The attack happened in December 2012. He was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon, sentenced to prison followed by supervised release. He got out of prison in January 2015, and was scheduled for supervised release through April 2017. Larnell Bruce died in August 2016.