AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Eighteenth District Attorney George Brauchler said the driver of a Jeep who drove through a crowd of protesters on Interstate 225 on July 25 will not face charges unless other evidence is presented showing the driver had intent to harm protesters.
On the day of the protest, several hundred people marched through the city of Aurora demanding action against the police officers involved in the altercation with Elijah McClain. Eventually, the protesters went on to I-225 and illegally blocked traffic.
While they were there, a Jeep got on the freeway and began driving through the crowd.
“We did notice that there were Black Lives Matter protesters on all sides of the street trying to stop traffic. We then avoided any pedestrians in the roadways and continued onto the freeway. There was no police barricade that stopped us,” 27-year-old Gregory Goodenough, the passenger in the Jeep, said in a YouTube video posted several days later.
During an hour-long news conference Wednesday, Brauchler walked viewers and reporters through the video and photos his office has reviewed as part of the investigation.
First, Brauchler said, Aurora police did not have any indication that protesters were going to get on the highway ahead of time and were for that reason unable to close the highway.
At one on ramp, a female motorbike rider was stopping vehicles from getting on illegally. The driver of the Jeep apparently went onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting her. She then followed the Jeep as it approached the crowd.
Aurora police said that preliminary interviews with the Jeep driver indicate he was scared and drove through the crowd after protesters surrounded his vehicle, striking it and yelling. He claims a white pickup struck the front of his vehicle.
Brauchler said there are pieces of investigative material missing, including video of the crash between the Jeep and that truck, which was determined to be a Ford F-150.
There is, however, video in which you can hear the crash and see the aftermath as the Jeep driver continues to drive forward and protesters appear to try to confront him as he continues down the highway at increasing speeds.
The Jeep driver got off the highway at the next exit and stopped when he saw an Aurora police officer. Body cam footage from his conversation with police shows the moterbike rider had continued to follow him after the crash and also spoke with officers about what happened.
Brauchler said that due to the gradual elevation of the highway and a curve after the Jeep driver got on, it was impossible to see protesters on the highway until Second Avenue. Data from the Jeep shows that at this point the driver slowed down before being hit by the pickup truck.
Brauchler said he believes the F-150 driver intentionally hit the Jeep, and data from the truck’s computer system shows that he accelerated and turned sharply toward the truck in the seconds before the crash. However, Brauchler said, he will not bring charges against the truck driver because he believes the truck driver thought he was doing the right thing and protecting protesters.
Video of the crash and the moments immediately prior to it could impact future charges against the driver of either vehicle involved in the crash, Brauchler said. He urged anyone that has video or pictures to contact his office.
During the same time frame, a man later identified as 23-year-old Samuel Young allegedly fired a gun at the Jeep, wounding two protesters. Young is facing four counts of attempted first-degree murder among other charges.
During the news conference Wednesday, DA Brauchler showed photos of the Jeep, which had at least two bullet holes on its back side.
Additionally, Brauchler said he would not be charging any of the protesters, the motorbike rider or other people involved with blocking the highway even though the were breaking the law. Brauchler said he felt bringing charges against any of these people could prevent those with other evidence from coming forward.
Anyone with information, video or pictures is asked to contact police.
The decisions to not charge Faulkison angered Gabriel Echo Lavine, who was participating in the protest that day.
Lavine is the founder and co-director of the Afro Liberation Front.
“I truly believe Kyle was there to harm us and I reject the notion that he had no idea that protestors were gathered there. We live in a world where the consequences of actions are not created equal,” Lavine said.
Lavine said allowing Faulkison to walk free is shameful and a miscarriage of justice.
Lavine added, “I’m reminded of the same differences when it comes to dealing with Black people and white people committing the same crimes. This entire situation is crazy. I’m at a loss of words.”
In a statement, attorney Kyle B. Sawyer who represents Faulkison, said his client is “grateful that the District Attorney’s office was able to come to the correct and just decision in not pursuing charges.”