A jury has reached its verdict in a case stemming from an anti-police riot in Colorado last year following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
When a protest in Denver grew out of control in May 2020, a driver appeared to deliberately hit and run over a protester who had jumped on the hood of her vehicle — and jurors determined that she is not guilty of a felony assault charge.
“Fearful for her safety”
She was, however, found guilty of a misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
Jennifer Watson and her defense attorney, Ryan Brackley, argued that she should not have been charged with assault since she was clearly “fearful for her safety” as protesters surrounded her vehicle on May 28, 2020.
Her lawyer insisted that she had been heading home along her normal route when she was “diverted” against her will by protesters blocking the road.
“She was alone in her car with her dog when she was surrounded by people who began kicking and hitting her car and taunting and yelling at her,” Brackley said.
Once her vehicle came to a stop, he said that a protester, Max Bailey, “jumped up onto the hood of her car and her windshield was smashed in two places.”
“Uncovering all the facts”
Bailey claimed that he only jumped on Watson’s vehicle to prevent her from driving any further into the crowd of protesters.
Video of the incident went viral a short time later and provoked widespread media and political debate, including a harsh take from Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
Although he acknowledged that investigators were “still uncovering all of the facts” regarding the Denver riot, Polis added that he “was absolutely shocked by video evidence of a motorist attempting to run over a protester.”
Brackley posted a Facebook status about two months after the incident in which he referenced the governor’s statement and similar remarks pointing to the “tremendous pressure” exerted on the district attorney to bring charges against his client.