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Sunday School teacher Johnny Lee Butts was intentionally run over by white teens who had been drinking and smoking marijuana all night. Every morning at around 7:00 AM, Butts would take a 4 mile walk, but on this particular morning, when a white teen driver spotted the older black man walking, the teen ran right over Butts.
In statements to police and also in statements given to a grand jury, all obtained exclusively by CNN, the two teenagers, a then-15-year-old and 18-year-old Tony Hopper Jr., described what happened next.
“We see a walker on the side of the road. The complete left side of the road while we are on the complete right side of the road,” the unidentified teen told a police lieutenant. “And I pointed out to say, ‘watch out there is a walker there…’”
The unnamed teen continued his story: “Whit slightly turns the steering wheel and I saw him. ‘Watch out, don’t do nothing stupid’ and then he just keep turning the steering wheel and eventually before we knew it he ran him straight over.”
“He didn’t slow down,” Hopper said in a statement to a deputy sheriff.
The deputy asked: “He never hit his brakes?” Hopper replied: “No sir.”
“Do you think he hit him on purpose?” asked the deputy.
“Yes, sir, I do,” said Hopper.
The teen in the backseat says he could clearly see that the person walking on the side of the road was a black man, although the passenger says he could not tell what race the man was. Police have refused to charge anyone with a hate crime in this case because they say they have no evidence that the crime was based on race.
Donny Butts, the son of the victim, says the white teens knew his father was black.
“They knew he was black,” said Donny Butts. “And that’s the only reason they ran him over because he was black. Point blank.”
The Butts family has been receiving death threats since this incident has become public.
Watch the CNN story here.