MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County Attorney's Office is expected to file charges by noon Wednesday after an SUV plowed into protesters Sunday night in Minneapolis, killing one woman and injuring three others.
The incident happened at the intersection of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue in Uptown, where protesters have gathered nightly to demonstrate against the police shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr.
Investigators say the 35-year-old driver slammed his SUV into a parked car in the middle of the street, pushing it into a group of protesters. The car belonged to Deona Knajdek, who was using the vehicle to protect protesters. The 31-year-old activist and mother of two was hit in the crash and fatally injured. She was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after.
Another injured person was brought to Hennepin Healthcare for treatment. Two others also sought medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries.
Protesters apprehended a man that evening, whom they say tried to run from the scene. The protesters held him down until police arrived and took him into custody.
A recently unsealed warrant to collect a blood sample from the driver says he told officers, while handcuffed and sitting in a squad car, that his name was "Jesus Christ" and "Tim Burton," and that he "has been a carpenter for 2,000 years." He also allegedly said that he wanted to "get his children to the Super Bowl," and asked an officer if they would tell his dead mother that "he does not like her."
Police said his pupils were small, and didn't react or change size even when a flash light was shined into his eyes.
Records show that the man arrested does not have a valid license as a result of multiple DUI offenses.
Police say that a city camera would have captured video of the deadly crash if it hadn't been painted over by someone earlier that night. The footage would have provided more evidence to the county attorney's office to prosecute the driver, police said.
Knajdek died while protesting the June 3 shooting of Smith, a 32-year-old father of three. According to authorities, the Black man who was wanted for a weapons violation fired a gun from inside a vehicle when stopped by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force atop an Uptown parking ramp. Two deputies in the task force fired at Smith, killing him.
Since Smith's shooting, there have been protests and vandalism in Uptown. Following Knajdek's death, protesters have attempted to block streets in the area, but the makeshift barricades were cleared by city crews and police.
Tensions between protesters and police remain high in the Twin Cities as Smith's death is the latest in a string of fatal encounters between Black men and law enforcement.
Last summer, George Floyd died under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder earlier this year. In April, Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop. That officer, Kim Potter, is facing manslaughter charges.
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