Before he turned violent at a bar in Dubuque, Iowa, last year, Randy Metcalf had already made his contempt for black people known.
That January night, Metcalf got into an argument with several women over a jukebox. Afterward, he began hurling racial slurs at the women and one of their friends, a black man named Lamarr Sandridge.
The vicious taunting lasted several hours, according to the Justice Department, which said that the 40-year-old Metcalf bragged to the bar owner at one point that he’d taken part in cross-burnings.
He also announced to other patrons of the bar that he hated black people, according to government prosecutors. Metcalf, who was surrounded by several white friends he’d grown up with in Dubuque, even revealed a large swastika tattooed onto his abdomen.
“This is what I’m about,” Metcalf said to Sandridge, according to court records.
When a fight broke out between Metcalf and one of the women, Sandridge attempted to protect her, according to prosecutors.
But Metcalf’s friends beat Sandridge unconscious, prosecutor Christopher Perras told jurors during a trial in March. And as Sandridge lay on the floor of the bar, Metcalf “kicked him and stomped him in the face, and he kept kicking and stomping him in the face” until the bartender “had the courage to run over and shove him off,” Perras said.
Metcalf left the bar — only to return and continue his attack, Perras said.
“He goes straight up to Lamarr, who’s still posing no threat, who’s still unconscious and bleeding on the floor, and he stomps on his head,” Perras said. “The defendant said a lot of hateful words that night, but I submit to you that his act right there — stomping on the head of another human being — tells you more than anything he ever could have said.”
Sandridge sustained numerous head injuries during the assault, including a broken orbital bone and a blood clot in one of his eyes.
The female attacked by Metcalf suffered a fractured cheek bone.
The assault was captured by surveillance video that FBI investigators were able to review before charging Metcalf with a racially motivated hate crime, court records show.
Metcalf was convicted in March, then sentenced this week to 10 years in prison for what a federal judge called a “brutal and outrageous attack.”
“This vicious attack threatened the most basic standards of human decency and dignity,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “While no sentence, including this one, can undo the harm inflicted, it does send an unequivocal message that the Justice Department will vigorously prosecute hate crimes.”
In addition to receiving the maximum 10-year sentence for his crime, Metcalf was ordered to pay $1,874.56 in restitution, the Justice Department said.
An FBI affidavit portrays Metcalf as a man who didn’t try to conceal his white supremacist leanings. Special Agent Thomas Reinwart noted that Metcalf has a chest tattoo that says “FRYS,” a reference to a white supremacist prison gang.
According to the affidavit, Metcalf also has a “significant, violent criminal history,” which included such charges as burglary, domestic abuse and child endangerment convictions. Before the assault on Sandridge, he had at least eight assault convictions.
Sandridge testified at trial he didn’t remember the assault or the racial slurs. He remembered Metcalf cursing and swearing at his friends and an argument over the jukebox, but didn’t remember anything until he woke up in an emergency room.
The newspaper reported that Sandridge testified that he “couldn’t see out of one eye for a period of time” after the attack, and that he also suffered memory loss.
During closing arguments in March, Perras said that before the January 2015 assault, Metcalf stepped outside the bar with owner Ted Stackis and asked if Stackis needed anything “taken care of.”
Perras argued that Metcalf was talking about Sandridge, who was the only black man in the bar at the time.
“The defendant was proud of his racist ways that night,” Perras said. “It was a deliberately targeted assault.”
Melanie Keiper, Metcalf’s attorney, argued that the fight was not motivated by racial hatred.
Keiper told jurors that the dispute began with one of Sandridge’s friends knocking a cellphone out of the hands of Metcalf’s fiancee, who was present at the time.
“The target in this case was not Lamarr Sandridge,” Keiper said, adding that his female friend was “egging” Metcalf on, according to court records.
Keiper also cited testimony from the black son of Metcalf’s ex-girlfriend, who testified as a character witness at the trial. The attorney asked jurors to consider how Metcalf could have cared for a black child if he was racist, according to court records.
“It’s a horrible thing Randy did that night,” Keiper told jurors. “It’s absolutely awful. But he did not do it because Lamarr Sandridge is black.”
Perras said there was a reason Metcalf hid his hateful views from his ex-girlfriend.
“If you go around calling the child of your girlfriend the n-word, your girlfriend’s not going to be your girlfriend for very much longer,” he said, before explaining that Metcalf attacked Sandridge in very particular circumstances.
“Lamarr wasn’t just any black guy,” Perras said. “He was a black guy who stood up to the defendant in front of his other white friends.”
The prosecutor added that Metcalf “was drinking” on the night of the attack, noting: “The usual filter in his head that kept him from sharing his true self to everyone was gone.”
The jury, which consisted of 10 men and two women, took just over three hours to convict Metcalf, according to the Telegraph Herald.
“Hate crimes represent an attack not just on the individual victim but also on the entire community,” Kevin W. Techau, U.S. attorney of the Northern District of Iowa, said in a statement. “The federal hate crime of which Randy Metcalf was found guilty is as reprehensible as it was violent.”