TULSA, Okla. — No criminal charges are going to be filed against the driver of a truck that drove through a crowd of protesters in May, according to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.
On May 31, a large crowd of protesters flooded Interstate 244 to protest the death a George Floyd, a man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
The protesters were originally given a protected route by the Tulsa Police Department to protest, according to Kunzweiler. However, the protesters decided to overrun the highway, which blocked vehicles from driving through the interstate.
As a Dodge pickup truck pulling a horse trailer attempted to drive through the crowd, multiple protesters began assaulting the truck. The truck then sped through the crowd.
Three people said they were injured during that incident.
The truck was occupied by a family of four, including a man, his wife and two children. Kunzweiler said the family described being in fear for their safety during the incident.
“From what I was able to see and review from those reports, it’s clear what we’re looking at is that family that was in that vehicle were the victims of a crime," Kunzweiler said. "It was violent. It was unprovoked.”
Kunzweiler said the truck was following another car that protesters allowed through; however, after that car went through, the truck was blocked again.
One of those people standing in front was Carmyn Taylor.
Taylor said the crowd let the car through because the driver said it was an emergency, but they never communicated with the truck to let it through. At one point, he said he was stuck between the truck and a bicycle.
“All at once, he sped up really quickly," Taylor said. "The bike got pulled under the driver’s side of the truck. My legs going with it. I remember watching both sets of tires on the truck, the front and the rear go over my legs.”
Taylor said he sustained a broken right leg and two sprained ankles. He said he was also hit the previous day while protesting on I-44.
Kunzweiler said it’s against Oklahoma law to block a road or highway.
His lengthy and detailed memo discussing his decision includes statements from the family inside, claiming the mother and children were on the floor of the truck crying as it was being hit.
“The truck is being struck by multiple projectiles," Kunzweiler said. "The family described what appeared to be bricks. I’ve seen allegations of skateboards being used. Just horrendous conduct committed upon this family.”
However, Taylor said violence was not the intention of the protest. He said the crowd deviated from the planned protest route to the interstate to make the march longer, get more attention and have their message heard.
“It was a peaceful way of saying you will notice me," Taylor said. "You will notice the message I’m trying to get out. And our message there was like a message of justice. It was justice for Black people. It was justice for victims of police brutality.”
Kunzweiler asks that if anyone knows those who were on the bridge being violent, to contact Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
There were also rumors of a horse being in the trailer and that it was injured or killed; however, Kunzweiler said that’s not true — it was empty.
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