A Wisconsin man has been arrested for a hate crime after police say he snipped his neighbors' internet cable because he erroneously thought they were undocumented immigrants and didn't "deserve cable." According to a criminal complaint cited by NBC News and WQOW, 48-year-old Shannon Pearson called the cops to his Eau Claire apartment on Sept. 22, claiming he'd gone to confront a couple who lived above him about being illegally in the United States, and that one of the neighbors had pushed him down the stairs. Pearson alleged that before that happened, he'd mentioned to a cable installer there to set up internet for his neighbors that they weren't in in the country lawfully, and that the cable installer then "freaked out" and cut the couple's cable, per the complaint.
Cops say when they got there, they interviewed the neighbors separately and their accounts synced up: They told police there was no confrontation, and that they couldn't have pushed Pearson down the stairs because they work the overnight shift and were sleeping at the time of the alleged incident. The internet installer, meanwhile, told investigators that Pearson "had come outside and was saying racist things" and that it was Pearson who'd cut the cable. When police confronted Pearson with the installer's remarks, Pearson admitted to taking scissors to the cable himself, noting he'd been drinking earlier that day.
"I just don't feel that they deserve cable," Pearson told the police, per the complaint. "I'm sorry, I don't. They're illegal aliens." He told cops he thought they were undocumented because they didn't speak English. Police, meanwhile, determined that the couple is indeed in the country legally. Pearson was charged with obstructing an officer, as well as with felony criminal damage, which is being classified as a hate crime. He was released on a $1,000 bond and told he must stay away from the neighbors upstairs. If he's found guilty, Pearson could see up to two years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000. He's next due in court on Nov. 28. (Read more hate crime stories.)