On Monday, a Massachusetts man, Dean Kapsalis, 56, was convicted of using a racial slur against a Black man, Henry Tapia, and then striking him with his truck. This incident resulted in Tapia’s untimely death.
Kapsalis was found guilty of several criminal convictions, including second-degree murder and leaving the scene after causing injury.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan referred to Tapia’s murder as a senseless tragedy fueled by hate and anger. Ryan emphasized that society cannot tolerate the racial insults that Tapia heard just before he was attacked, which were intended to intimidate and threaten him based on his skin color.
According to prosecutors, Kapsalis and Tapia engaged in an argument in Belmont on January 19. As Tapia walked back to his car, Kapsalis hurled a racial slur at him before getting into his Dodge Dakota pickup truck and driving it at Tapia. Kapsalis struck Tapia and dragged him for a short distance before fleeing the scene.
Tapia, a father of three, was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he later died. Kapsalis eventually turned himself in to authorities.
During a press conference on Monday, Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac praised the witnesses who reported the incident and provided Tapia with care in his final moments.
One witness even pursued Kapsalis’ fleeing vehicle to obtain the license plate number, ensuring that justice would be served. MacIsaac acknowledged that this hate crime will forever be a part of Belmont’s history.
A GoFundMe page was established to support Tapia’s partner and children, describing him as a “gentle giant” and a loyal friend with a big, unforgettable smile and an even bigger heart. The page noted that Tapia was dedicated to being the best role model for his children and worked diligently toward the goal of purchasing a home with his partner Courtney.
Kapsalis is expected to be sentenced on June 27th.