According to the Johnson City Press, Johnson City police announced on Monday the arrest of the driver of a vehicle allegedly seen running over a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City. Police said 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer of 147 Rockdale Road, Bakersville, North Carolina, was charged with aggravated assault. Lafer surrendered himself to authorities Monday afternoon and was released on $20,000 bond. On Saturday night, cellphone video posted to social media showed a white Ford Expedition accelerating into two demonstrators who were standing in a crosswalk in front of the vehicle near the intersection of West State of Franklin Road and Spring Street. According to protesters and police, the vehicle then left the scene. Police said Sunday they had identified a person of interest and were coordinating with North Carolina authorities to locate the vehicle involved. In the video, several protesters could be heard yelling that the vehicle had North Carolina tags, and a plate number was reportedly given to police.
Video of the incident was posted by Brent Chaffin on Facebook and shared widely on social media. Chaffin, one of the protest organizers, said demonstrators were marching from the Johnson City Police Department when they stopped to demonstrate on either side of a crosswalk near the intersection, which they have been doing during marches in the past week. The video did not show what led up to the incident, but Chaffin said it began when the driver reportedly began inching forward, trying to get past the demonstrators.
At some point, people began to stand in front of the vehicle, which is where the video begins. The driver according to witnesses was rolling forward at about 2 miles per hour. The SUV bumped the victim and knocked him down and apparently ran over his legs.
In response to the incident, BLM demonstrators again took to city streets Sunday. A group of several dozen protesters stopped at the crosswalk where the incident occurred, and demonstrated on both sides of West State of Franklin Road, occasionally switching sides.
Two victims, a 31 year old male from Johnson City was taken to the hospital with injuries. A 26 yer old female from Johnson City who was also struck by the SUV did not require treatment.