A motorist in Johnson City, Tennessee, was caught on cellphone video running over a Black Lives Matter supporter who refused to get out of the SUV’s path during a demonstration over the weekend — and now police have arrested and charged a suspect.
What are the details?
Video posted to social media showed a white Ford Expedition accelerating into two people who stood in front of the vehicle in a crosswalk near the intersection of West State of Franklin Road and Spring Street, the Johnson City Press said, adding that protesters and police said the vehicle left the scene.
The victim, a 31-year-old Johnson City man, was taken to a hospital for treatment, the paper said, adding that a 26-year-old Johnson City woman who also was struck by the SUV didn’t have injuries requiring treatment.
Brent Chaffin — a protest organizer who witnessed the incident — told the Press that demonstrators were marching from the Johnson City Police Department when they stopped to protest on either side of a crosswalk near the intersection.
Chaffin said the driver began inching forward, trying to get past the demonstrators, the paper reported. Video shows the driver appearing to run over at least one of the two protesters standing in front of the SUV, the Press said.
What did the victim have to say?
The victim was interviewed at the hospital, according to a court document obtained late Monday, the paper said, adding that he told police he was walking his dog and taking photos when he joined the Black Lives Matter protesters.
As the group crossed the street, some drivers grew impatient and honked their horns, the Press reported, adding that someone in a black vehicle gave the finger to demonstrators while maneuvering around the group.
The victim told police the driver of a white SUV honked, kept inching forward at about two miles per hour, and then bumped him before knocking him down and running over his legs, the paper said.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
The motorist drove away without attempting to assist or check on the welfare of the victims, the Press said.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
In the video, several people could be heard yelling that the vehicle had North Carolina tags, and a plate number was reportedly given to police, the paper said, adding that authorities said they got video from other witnesses, neighboring businesses, and a traffic camera.
On Sunday police said they identified a person of interest and were coordinating with North Carolina authorities to locate the vehicle involved, the Press reported.
While the suspect wasn’t found at his residence, the paper — citing a court document — reported that a Johnson City police investigator got a phone call from a North Carolina attorney who said the suspect was in the process of hiring a Tennessee lawyer and planned to turn himself in Monday, which he did.
Who is the suspect?
Police said Jared Benjamin Lafer — a 27-year-old from Bakersville, North Carolina — was charged with aggravated assault in connection with the incident and released on $20,000 bond, the Press said, adding that Lafer was set for arraignment at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Image source: Washington County Detention Center
What did Black Lives Matter have to say?
The day after the incident, demonstrators took to the streets again, with several dozen stopping at the same crosswalk and protesting on both sides, occasionally moving back and forth, the paper said.
Alyjah Gilmer — an incident witness and founding member of the New Panther Initiative, a Johnson City-based Black Lives Matter group — had a few other things to say at Sunday’s demonstration, the Press reported.
“We don’t stand for that,” Gilmer noted to the paper. “It’s definitely uncalled for, so we’re going to do everything we can to show [the man who was run over] we are behind him, that we are against anybody showing out in such a manner. We are going to stand 10 toes behind our people 100% no matter what. We’re out here to make a statement, but a positive statement.”
Police: Protester hit by car in Johnson City