Police in Johnson City, Tennessee arrested Jared Benjamin Lafer after the man allegedly struck a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march, breaking both of his legs.
Lafer, 27, from Bakersville, North Carolina, allegedly drove his Ford Expedition into two demonstrators standing in a crosswalk in the Tennessee city’s downtown then fled the scene.
Lafer turned himself in on Monday and was released after posting a $20,000 bond. He also retained an attorney.
Cellphone video helped authorities identify the vehicle and arrest the man. According to the Johnson City Press, the police report listed nine witnesses to the incident.
The organizer of the protest, Brett Chaffin, said that they had been demonstrating on either side of a crosswalk near an intersection, which they had been doing for weeks. He told the local paper that the man appeared to be “inching forward” trying to pass the protesters.
He posted the video to his Facebook page with a trigger warning of graphic violence. “Tonight at a peaceful protest for #BlackLivesMatter a car brutally ran over a photographer and a crowd of protesters who were lawfully in a crosswalk,” he wrote.
In cell phone video, two people are seen standing in front of the vehicle which accelerates and strikes them.
The victim told investigators that he was walking his dog downtown and taking photos when he decided to join the protests.
He told police that a white SUV honked, and the driver kept rolling forward at about two miles per hour and bumped the victim before knocking him down and running over his legs. The second person struck didn’t need medical attention.
Black Lives Matter leaders in the city offered their support to the victim of the incident.
“We are behind him,” Alyjah Gilmer of the New Panther Initiative said. “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.”
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