A not-guilty verdict by reason of insanity, reinforcing the “lone wolf” characterization of White men, was recently rendered in one Virginia man’s case after he yanked a Black woman from a vehicle by her ankles.
Matthew R. Ellis, a computer scientist, 27, from Chester, Virginia, was acquitted of a hate crime after he hurled slurs at the woman following the assault last spring, the Richmond Texas-Dispatch reported. Ellis, who is White, forced an insanity defense when two mental health professionals, including one for the prosecution, decided that the man’s racially tinged assault resulted from a bipolar manic episode. The evidence was so “overwhelming,” Ellis’ attorney Todd Ritter said, that it convinced Chesterfield County Circuit Court Judge Lynn S. Brice to commit Ellis to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for evaluation.
Whether Ellis will be released, with or without conditions, or required to continue confinement hinges on that evaluation. A hearing will be set for January 29 about his release after the scary incident, written off as just the result of a mental breakdown.
A “delusional” Ellis yelled obscenities at the unidentified woman when he pulled up next to her car during a traffic stop in May, according to a prepared summary of evidence by Chesterfield prosecutor Geoff Easton. The woman drove off with Ellis in tow behind her before he rear-ended her vehicle. He exited his car, walked to her driver’s side door and threatened to “kill” her. Just moments later, Ellis opened her car door and pulled her out of it by her ankles. Three male motorists then restrained Ellis, and the woman escaped to a nearby office building. Ellis, however, managed to get free of the men and run after the woman in an attempt to “get” her.
The three motorists captured and subdued Ellis again until police arrived at the scene, according to WTVR . Ellis refused to answer cops’ questions and spat at them. He then proceeded to hurl racial slurs and threats at the woman, having told officers that he wanted to hurt her because of her race.
Ellis’ acquittal by insanity allows him to escape charges for a hate-crime, assaulting a law-enforcement officer, statutory burglary and reckless driving. However, his hateful force and attacks on the woman cannot be erased. His treatment in the case also indicates the presence of a privilege far less extended to Black males in similar situations. The case sheds light on the power of privilege being tied to the powerlessness of victims.
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