A Belgrade man is facing a $100,000 bail after being seen in court Wednesday morning after he allegedly racially harassed and threatened a man with a shotgun named “Betsy”.
Jim D. Daniels, 60, was seen in Gallatin County Justice Court on a malicious intimidation or harassment of civil or human rights charge. If convicted, Daniels could face up $5,000 in fines and 5 years of imprisonment.
According to charging documents, on May 26, a deputy sheriff responded to reports of threats that happened the previous day when a man reported that Daniels, his co-worker, had threatened and harassed him at the Storm Castle Trailhead.
The victim told the deputy he had been continually harassed by Daniels at work, beginning with racist jokes which escalated into provocation to fight over time.
The victim reported that Daniels constantly made jokes about his dark skin and in the last two weeks further harassed and threatened him, reportedly making comments like: “Someday you’re going to meet Betsy,” and brandished a shotgun from his work vehicle and told him it was Betsy.
The man told law enforcement that Daniels brandished the shotgun, that he keeps in his work vehicle, several times while making racist comments at him.
On Memorial Day at approximately noon, the victim and his family took a drive to the Storm Castle Trailhead. While parking, the victim and his wife were getting their children out of the vehicle when he saw Daniels in the passenger seat of a vehicle that drove past.
The man said Daniels spoke out the window and threatened: “In Montana we kill people like you.” The victim reported he feared for his safety and the safety of his family and is scared because Daniels “knows where” he lives.
When contacted, the men’s employer reported the victim is a good employee and he was aware of the harassment and had separated the men as a result. He told law enforcement that he had been contacted by the victim and encouraged him to call the police and report the incident.
When law enforcement contacted Daniels, he reportedly admitted he made “racist-type” comments toward the victim and may have said “something like that” when confronted about what he said at the trailhead.
Daniels reportedly admitted showing the victim the firearm but denied he did so to intimidate the victim. Daniels' next court appearance is set June 12, 2020.
The crime of malicious intimidation MCA 45-5-211 occurs when a person commits the offense of malicious intimidation or harassment when, because of another person's race, creed, religion, color, national origin, or involvement with civil rights or human rights activities, the person purposely or knowingly, with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend: (a) causes bodily injury to another; (b) causes reasonable apprehension of bodily injury in another; or (c) damages, destroys, or defaces any property of another or any public property. (2) For purposes of this section, "deface" includes but is not limited to cross burning or placing any word or symbol commonly associated with racial, religious, or ethnic identity or activities on the property of another person without the other person's permission. (3) A person convicted of the offense of malicious intimidation or harassment shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 5 years or be fined an amount not to exceed $5,000, or both.