BLM protesters struck

Video image shows two pedestrians as they were struck by a white SUV in the crosswalk adjacent to Spring Street on State of Franklin Road on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. The incident occurred during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Johnson City, Tennessee. The video was taken by Brent Chaffin and posted to Facebook.

Johnson City police on Monday arrested the driver whose vehicle was seen striking a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City, according to a report.

Police said 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer, 147 Rockdale Road, Bakersville, North Carolina, was charged with aggravated assault.

Lafer surrendered himself to authorities Monday afternoon at the Washington County Detention Center and was released on $20,000 bond. He was set to be arraigned in Sessions Court Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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.

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, also was struck by the SUV but did not have injuries requiring treatment.

A Johnson City police report listed nine witnesses to the incident.

One witness, Brent Chaffin, had posted another witness’ video to Facebook, and it was 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.

The video shows at least two people standing in front of the vehicle before it moves forward and strikes them, appearing to run over at least one. The video also captured the license plate on the vehicle.

According to a court document obtained late Monday, the victim was interviewed at the hospital. He told police he was downtown walking his dog and taking photos when he joined the Black Lives Matter protesters.

As the group crossed State of Franklin Road, some drivers were impatient as the protesters crossed the street and blew their horns. Someone in a black vehicle “flicked-off” the participants as the driver maneuvered around the group.

He told police that a white SUV honked and the driver kept rolling forward at about two miles per hour and bumped the victim before knocking him down and running over his legs.

The driver, later identified as Lafer, drove away without attempting to assist or check on the welfare of the victims.

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 people could be heard yelling that the vehicle had North Carolina tags, and a plate number was reportedly given to police. Police said they had also gathered video from other witnesses, neighboring businesses and a traffic camera.

Johnson City police contacted the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office and asked for assistance in locating Lafer. He was not found at his residence, but according to a court document, a JCPD investigator received a phone call from an attorney in North Carolina who said Lafer was in the process of hiring a Tennessee lawyer and planned to turn himself in Monday, which he did.

In response to the incident, BLM demonstrators again took to city streets Sunday. A group of several dozen stopped at the crosswalk where the incident occurred, and demonstrated on both sides of West State of Franklin Road, occasionally moving back and forth.

“We don’t stand for that, it’s definitely uncalled for, so we’re going to do everything we can to show (the man who was run over) we are behind him, that we are against anybody showing out in such a manner,” Alyjah Gilmer, a witness to the incident and a founding member of the New Panther Initiative — a Johnson City-based Black Lives Matter group — said at Sunday’s followup demonstration. “We are going to stand 10 toes behind our people 100% — no matter what. We’re out here to make a statement, but a positive statement.”

Reported earlier:

Johnson City police on Monday arrested the driver whose vehicle was seen running over a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City, according to a report.

Police said 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer, 147 Rockdale Road, Bakersville, North Carolina, was charged with aggravated assault.

Lafer surrendered himself to authorities this afternoon at the Washington County Detention Center and was released on $20,000 bond. He was set to be arraigned in Sessions Court Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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.

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, also was struck by the SUV but did have injuries requiring treatment.

A Johnson City police report listed nine witnesses to the incident.

One witness, Brent Chaffin, had posted another witness’ video to Facebook, and it was 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.

The video shows at least two people standing in front of the vehicle before it moves forward and strikes them, appearing to run over at least one.

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 people could be heard yelling that the vehicle had North Carolina tags, and a plate number was reportedly given to police. Police said they had also gathered video from other witnesses, neighboring businesses and a traffic camera.

In response to the incident, BLM demonstrators again took to city streets Sunday. A group of several dozen stopped at the crosswalk where the incident occurred, and demonstrated on both sides of West State of Franklin Road, occasionally moving back and forth.

“We don’t stand for that, it’s definitely uncalled for, so we’re going to do everything we can to show (the man who was run over) we are behind him, that we are against anybody showing out in such a manner,” Alyjah Gilmer, a witness to the incident and a founding member of the New Panther Initiative — a Johnson City-based Black Lives Matter group — said at Sunday’s followup demonstration. “We are going to stand 10 toes behind our people 100% — no matter what. We’re out here to make a statement, but a positive statement.”