TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A prosecutor in Oklahoma has decided not to charge a motorist who drove through a crowd of people protesting on an interstate following the death of George Floyd and is instead looking at whether to prosecute some of the protesters who were in the path of the vehicle.
The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office is asking the Highway Patrol to identify protesters from photos and videos for possible prosecution for doing what District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler described as “using weapons and throwing projectiles and damaging the property of this family” in the vehicle.
Attorney Jonathan Nation, who represents one of three people who were injured during the May 31 protest, told the Tulsa World on Thursday that Kunzweiler’s stance is “essentially blaming the protesters and essentially blaming the victims for their own injuries.”
The newspaper obtained a memo from Kunzweiler in which he said: “Although the claim may be that this was a peaceful protest, there was nothing peaceful about the targeting and attack upon this family.” The driver’s name has not been released.
Ryan Knight, who is from Tulsa, fell from an interstate overpass as the truck pulling a horse trailer drove through the group of protesters on Interstate 244. The 32-year-old was paralyzed from the waist down.
Nation, who represents another injured person, said that the driver’s actions, malicious or not, at least warrant a traffic citation.
Sarah Stewart, an Oklahoma Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the agency provided the results of its investigation to federal and state prosecutors on Monday. Kunzweiler said “no affidavit requesting charges was submitted with this report, nor was there a request for charges.”
Kunzweiler said Thursday that his office had jurisdiction in deciding the case because the collision site is not within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s boundaries.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa.
Floyd died in Minneapolis after an officer pressed his knew into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. The death of Floyd sparked protests worldwide against racial injustice and police brutality.