Update: Police said Sunday they had identified a person of interest in the hit-and-run injury in a Johnson City crosswalk during a Black Lives Matter demonstration Saturday night.
Capt. Kevin Peters reported that police had identified the vehicle and a person of interest who may be involved in the crash. With the assistance from North Carolina authorities, police continued to search for the person and vehicle.
According a statement from the JCPD, the vehicle was a white Ford Expedition. In a video recorded at the scene, several people can be heard yelling that the vehicle had North Carolina tags.
Peters said more information would be released on Monday as it becomes available.
Update posted at 10:27 a.m. Sunday:
Update: Johnson City police sought the public’s help Sunday to find a driver captured on video running over Black Lives Matter demonstrators during a protest in Johnson City Saturday night.
According a statement from the JCPD, the vehicle was a white Ford Expedition. In the video, several people can be heard yelling that the driver had North Carolina tags.
The JCPD release said they were reviewing witness videos, traffic cameras and cameras from surrounding businesses. The demonstrator who was injured was taken to Johnson City Medical Center.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at (423) 434-6166 or crime stoppers at (423) 434-6158 to remain anonymous. Anonymous can also be sent by texting 423JCPD and the tip to 847411 or on www.citizenobserver.com. Messages can also be sent via the JCPD website.
Cellphone video posted to social media night showed at least two demonstrators being struck by the SUV in downtown Johnson City during a march early in the evening.
The video, which is about 20 seconds long, shows the demonstrators standing in front of a white SUV in the West State of Franklin Road crosswalk adjacent to Spring Street before the vehicle lunges forward and strikes them; protesters said the vehicle then left the scene.
One man was shown lying on the pavement after the impact, and was reportedly taken to the hospital. His condition wasn’t immediately clear.
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 video then shows the driver pulling forward, striking two and appearing to run over at least one.
The man seen being struck in the video was taking photos of the march, according to Chaffin, and had his knee “messed up pretty bad.” Another person’s bicycle was reportedly crushed by the SUV.
“We were doing the regular route, from Founders Park up to the police station and the police station down State of Franklin,” Chaffin said, “and we stop at that crosswalk and we stay on both sides of that crosswalk for a while.
“We’ve been utilizing the lights — the crosswalk function — to go back and forth whenever the lights are on, and we’ve done our best to be lawful while doing that.”
In the video, it’s unclear if the lights were flashing, but both people appeared to be in the crosswalk. Chaffin said the lights were on at the time, and that protesters had nearly been struck in other recent marches.
“One car actually bumped into my thigh a couple of days ago, but it wasn’t quite as big of a deal as this,” Chaffin said. “What happened today was the most escalated it got.”
Witnesses could be heard on the video saying the vehicle had North Carolina plates.
Attempts to reach the Johnson City Police Department were unsuccessful Saturday night.
Another protest was scheduled to happen Sunday around 6:30 p.m. in response to the incident.
“We decided we’re going to march tomorrow, obviously in response to this,” Chaffin said. “We might have marched tomorrow anyway, but now we’re definitely going to.”
Black Lives Matter events have been a regular occurrence in downtown Johnson City since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.