No charges will be filed against two drivers or the two people who were injured during a protest at Broadway and Providence Road last June, assistant prosecutor David Hansen decided.
Hansen sent an 11-page letter to Columbia Chief Geoff Jones on Tuesday explaining that after reviewing the investigation conducted by the Columbia Police Department he determined that it is not in the interest of justice to proceed with criminal charges against the drivers or protesters as a result of the incidents that occurred the evening of June 1, 2020, during the demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd.
"There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either driver, under the circumstances they faced that evening, knowingly caused injuries to the people that confronted them at the intersection," Hansen wrote.
The Missourian reported on the night of the incidents that around 40 people had gathered for the protest.
The first incident happened at 8:15 p.m. and involved a 50-year-old man who was driving a blue Dodge sedan. He was stopped at a red light in the southbound lane on Providence. When the light turned green, a 25-year-old woman jumped on the hood of his car, which caused the driver to slam on his brakes. The driver then accelerated through the intersection, causing the woman to fall off the hood and be struck by the car.
The second incident happened at the same intersection at 8:50 p.m. It involved a 17-year-old who was driving a black Ford sedan east on Broadway. The teenager sounded his horn as he slowly approached the intersection. Hansen wrote that someone immediately placed a large sign on the front windshield his car, and two men struck the driver's door with water bottles. The teen revved his engine and struck a protester who had stepped in front of the car. Because of the sign on his windshield, he had no idea he had struck or injured anyone, Hansen wrote.
The protester who stepped in front of the car was Behonsay Williams. Her attorney, Stephen Wyse, told the Missourian Thursday that he thinks charges should have been filed against both drivers and that there are grounds for a special prosecutor to look at the case.
"I’m disappointed in the decision, and I think it just reflects the entire attitude of the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office," Wyse said, adding that "if you are engaged with people who are protesting the government and you injure them, well you won't be held accountable."
Hansen wrote in his letter that "there is evidence that the people blocking the roadway unreasonably and knowingly disturbed or alarmed drivers who were on a public roadway and purposely caused inconvenience to them by unreasonably and physically obstructing vehicular traffic, which could constitute the crime of peace disturbance," Hansen wrote.
He added that that there is evidence that six or more of those who gathered at the intersection were assembled for the purpose of violating the law and disturbing the peace. Still, he determined it would not be in the interests of justice to pursue criminal charges against them.
Both the drivers and people who blocked the intersection made ill-advised decisions that night, Hansen wrote.
"Some people were confronting and in some cases blocking and taunting drivers who were traveling or attempting to travel through the intersection at Providence and Broadway."