BAKERSFIELD — In a time when numerous incidents of fake hate crimes occur, staged by people who merely want to draw attention to the issue, a Bakersfield man who was convicted in December of an actual hate crime was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison.
25-year-old Justin Cole Whittington fired a shotgun and yelled racial slurs at his neighbor on December 19, 2012. The suspect drove up to a man who was standing in his yard with his wife and son, and proceeded to get out of his car and fire a shotgun from 15 yards away, telling him to move out of Oildale.
Not long after, Whittington also fired a shot at a convenience store.
Deputies found the suspect standing by his Crown Victoria. The victim identified him as the shooter. In addition, Whittington gave false information to an FBI agent, stating that he had been paid by someone else to keep the sawed-off shotgun that was in the trunk of his car.
Besides his prison sentence, Whittington was also ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the victim.
U.S. Attorney Philip Talbert stated: “The sentence handed down today reflects the seriousness of hate crimes such as this, which cause not only the victims but entire communities to feel vulnerable and unsafe. Our district is one that is rich in diversity, and my office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who violate community members’ civil rights through acts of hate and intimidation.”
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood added: “The Kern County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with our federal partners in investigating all hate crimes. I realize that these type of crimes reverberate through a community and cause fear to our community members. Violation of people’s civil rights impact all of us and will not be tolerated.”
The victim and his family ended up moving out of the neighborhood.