NC driver charged after video shows SUV run over BLM protester in Tennessee crosswalk
A Black Lives Matter protester standing in a crosswalk in Johnson City, Tennessee, was hit by a white SUV with North Carolina tags over the weekend, video shared on social media shows.
Now a driver has been charged.
Jared Benjamin Lafer, a 37-year-old from Bakersville, North Carolina, was charged with one count of aggravated assault after turning himself in Monday, the Johnson City Police Department said in a news release. More than 900 people signed a Change.org petition asking police to charge Lafer with attempted vehicular homicide before his arrest was announced.
Bakersville is about an hour southeast of Johnson City just over the North Carolina border.
The incident was captured in a video shared on Facebook. In the 22-second clip, a protester is seen standing Saturday at the hood of a white SUV.
A yellow crosswalk sign looms behind him.
The vehicle — which had been stopped — then accelerates, knocking the protester to the ground. Another protester is seen jumping out of the way.
“Oh my god!” the person recording can be heard saying as the SUV drives off.
Brent Chaffin, who posted the video on his personal Facebook page, described the protester as a photographer who was “lawfully in a crosswalk” at a Black Lives Matter protest in Johnson City.
Police said it occurred at the State of Franklin and Spring Street intersection.
Victoria Grace Hewlett with the New Panthers Initiative, an organization that was protesting police brutality in Johnson City when the incident happened, said the protester was “violently and deliberately hit by a car while crossing a high-trafficked crosswalk with large blinking State Law to Yield for Pedestrian signs.”
The protester who was hit has two broken legs, according to Hewlett.
“The driver could have turned left at the intersection, avoided the occupied crosswalk and easily taken another route, but chose to drive their car through a crowd lawfully using a crosswalk,” Hewlett said in a Facebook post Sunday. “The driver was clearly in no danger and had no right to put other peoples’ lives in danger. After running the individual over, the driver proceeded to speed away showing no regard for the person they injured.”
Lafer was released Monday on a $20,000 bond, according to police. His next court appearance is Tuesday at 9 a.m.
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