The defense team for a North Carolina man accused of running over a Black Lives Matter demonstrator said this week there is new evidence they believe will exonerate their client.
Jared Benjamin Lafer, 27, 147 Rockdale Road, Bakersville, North Carolina, was charged with aggravated assault, a class B felony that carries a sentence of 8-12 years in jail for someone with no criminal history, after he knocked a man down and drove over him around 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13.
Lafer was in Washington County General Sessions Court on Monday, where his preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 10.
“Essentially, we had done some digging and looking around to try to find additional effort to help Mr. Lafer’s case,” Mac Meade, Lafer’s lead attorney, said.
“Among other things we have a second video that shows the entire incident. In that full version, what we see, in our opinion, are the things that support Mr. Lafer’s and our contention (he took action) to avoid what was a dangerous situation for his family.”
Meade said the video came from security camera footage from a nearby business. He said the video has been turned over to the district attorney general’s office as well.
The night of the incident, video from a cellphone posted to social media captured 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. Investigators determined Lafer was the driver. His attorneys, Meade and Chris Rogers, said Lafer had been in Johnson City having dinner with relatives.
Meade has said that his client was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“This is not about racism,” Meade said. “It’s a case about a man who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, faced with what he perceived as a dangerous situation. His entire family — his wife and three young kids under the age of 6 were all in the car with him — and he thought it was necessary to get out of a situation that was dangerous to his family.”
The victim, a 31-year-old Johnson City man, was taken to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. A second victim, a 26-year-old Johnson City woman, was struck by the SUV but did not have injuries requiring treatment.
Meade said he anticipated the video would be shown during Lafer’s Dec. 10 preliminary hearing.