‘Fueled By Hate and Anger’: Massachusetts Man Who Shouted Racial Slurs Before Running Over, Killing Black Man In Road Rage Guilty of Murder

The Massachusetts man who ran over a pedestrian with his truck after shouting racial slurs following an argument over a blinker has been convicted of second-degree murder, according to NBC News Boston.

Dean Kapsalis ran over Henry Tapia on Jan. 19, 2021, with his Dodge Dakota truck on Upland Road in the Boston suburb of Belmont following an argument over whether turn signals were used.

Kapsalis, 56, shouted racial slurs at the 34-year-old as he walked away before getting in his truck, running Tapia down, and fleeing the scene. Tapia was dragged a short distance by Kapsalis’ truck after being struck.

Dean Kapsalis Henry Tapia
Dean Kapsalis (left) killed Henry Tapia (right) in Belmont, Massachusetts, on Jan. 19, 2021. (Photos: CBS Boston /YouTube screenshot)

Belmont police officers arrived on the scene at approximately 4:22 p.m. and found Tapia lying next to his Honda Civic. He later died at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to NBC Boston.

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Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac said one of the witnesses was able to chase Kapsalis and get his license plate number as other witnesses tried to help Tapia.

“They did not hesitate to report what they had seen, and they rushed to provide Mr. Tapia with care in his final moments,” said MacIsaac. “One even chased down the fleeing vehicle to obtain the license plate on the truck…This hate crime will forever be a part of Belmont’s history.”

Kapsalis turned himself in approximately a half hour later at the Belmont Police Department.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan announced that Kapsalis was found guilty on May 1 of second-degree murder and a violation of constitutional rights causing serious bodily injury. He was also convicted of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and leaving the scene after causing injury.

“The murder of Henry Tapia is a senseless tragedy fueled by hate and anger. The fact that some of the last words Henry Tapia heard were a horrific racial insult meant to intimidate and threaten him based on the color of his skin is something we cannot tolerate,” said Ryan at a press conference on Monday.

“We should make no mistake,” added Ryan. “This was a racially motivated, senseless tragedy. What is significant about today’s verdict is that in Middlesex County, when we have violent incidents that are motivated by hate and bigotry, those will not be seen as just background facts. We will charge those separately, prosecute that crime separately, and seek accountability for that piece of what happened.”

Juan Filipe is Tapia’s uncle and said the racism element made his nephew’s death worse.

“It makes it worse. It makes it worse,” said Filipe. “You don’t feel safe with that kind of people walking the streets.”

Kapsalis had several driving infractions between 1984 and 2021 including seven crashes and 18 speeding tickets. He also had his driver’s license suspended at least 10 times.

Ryan also said that hate crime cases “tear at the fabric of communities, and they make people who live in our communities wonder if they belong here. It is our hope that this verdict today gives a resounding answer to that question, that everyone belongs in our communities, and when they are treated in this way, we will investigate. We will charge if appropriate, and we will seek full accountability.”

A second-degree murder conviction in Massachusetts carries an automatic life sentence, but a judge can determine when an individual becomes parole-eligible. Kapsalis’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 27. Tapia was engaged and the father of three children.

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