BY: BILL HUTCHINSON
(WASHINGTON) — Two protesters were injured in hit-and-run incidents in Colorado and upstate New York on Wednesday night as demonstrations erupted across the county over a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge three police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor.
The chants for justice were quickly overcome by screams of horror as drivers in Denver and Buffalo plowed into protesters who spilled into the streets in the hours following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision in the Louisville police shooting of 26-year-old Taylor, a certified emergency medical technician killed in her own apartment.
The incident in Buffalo unfolded about 8:45 p.m. as protesters marched in the street near Niagra Square in the downtown area, police said.
Graphic video taken by ABC affiliate station WKBW-TV in Buffalo showed a maroon and white king-cab pickup truck drive directly into a group of demonstrators who pounded on the side of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop just before a protester on a bicycle was hit. The footage shows the truck speeding away as protesters on foot chased after it.
Buffalo police officials said the driver was eventually stopped by officers and detained for questioning. The name of the driver was not released and it remained unclear Thursday if any charges will be filed in the incident.
Calls to a police department spokesperson by ABC News were not immediately returned.
***Warning: Graphic video*** our @wkbw photographer captured the moment a truck drove through a crowd of protesters and struck a person outside Buffalo City Hall. Important to note: police say the person struck has non-life threatening injuries. pic.twitter.com/Vo9IORTYoF
— Ashley Rowe (@AshleyroweWKBW) September 24, 2020
Police said Wednesday night that the protester struck by the truck suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.
A spokesperson for Slow Roll Buffalo, a nonprofit community group of bicycle enthusiasts, told WKBW that the woman who was hit by the truck is a member of its board of directors. The spokesperson said the woman suffered broken bones and was in stable condition Thursday morning.
A similar incident unfolded in Denver outside the state Capitol Building, police said. Video taken by ABC affiliate station KMGH-TV in Denver showed a silver Volvo station wagon approach demonstrators marching in the street and stop.
In the footage, a small group of protesters gathered around the car and instructed the driver to turn around. Several protesters were standing in front of the vehicle and banging on its hood as the car began to move forward and accelerate, knocking one female protester to the ground.
The driver sped away but was stopped by police a short time later and detained, police said on Twitter. The driver’s name was not immediately released and charges against him are pending further investigation, a Denver police spokesman said in an email to ABC News on Thursday.
Police said in a Twitter post that no one was injured in the incident. But the video shot by KMGH showed the protester, who was knocked down, apparently shaken up, sitting on the sidewalk with other demonstrators who rushed to provide her with emergency aid. The woman told the Denver Post that she was not badly injured.
The two incidents came just hours after a Kentucky grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in the shooting that killed Taylor, but neither he nor the other two officers involved in the fatal encounter were charged in her death.
An investigation headed by Kentucky State Attorney General Daniel Cameron determined that Louisville Metro Police Department officers Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were justified in using deadly force because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at them first when they broke down Taylor’s apartment door on March 13 while serving a warrant.
Cameron said the officers knocked first and announced them themselves before ramming the door open when they didn’t get an answer, a statement disputed by attorneys for Taylor’s family.
The two hit-and-runs on Wednesday mark the latest in a series of incidents in recent months in which protesters have been struck while marching in demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.
The most serious incident occurred on July 4 when a protester was killed and another was injured when a car barreled into a Black Lives Matter protest on a closed freeway in Seattle.
Protester Summer Taylor, 24, died from injuries she suffered when she was struck by the car on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Demonstrator Diaz Love, 32, was seriously injured in the episode, according to police.
The driver in the fatal Seattle incident, Dawit Kelete, 27, has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault and reckless driving. He remains in custody in King County Jail on $1.2 million bail, according to online jail records.
Kelete’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said his client did not intentionally hit the protesters. He said the crash was a “horrible, horrible accident.”
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