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Jeep driver at Aurora protest for Elijah McClain not facing charges, DA says

Posted at 11:39 AM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 19:29:02-04

AURORA, Colo. — The driver of a Jeep who was seen passing through a crowd of protesters on Interstate 225 in July will not face charges at this time, the 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler announced Wednesday.

Brauchler said the driver's actions did not meet the criteria for any of the charges that were considered, which included attempted murder down to careless driving.

The driver had entered northbound Interstate 225 off Alameda Avenue in Aurora on July 27, when protesters who were calling for justice for Elijah McClain had marched onto I-225. As the Jeep approached the protesters, it crashed with a pickup truck, whose driver later told media that he was trying to stop the Jeep and protect the protesters.

After crashing with the truck, the Jeep continued along I-225, as protesters moved out of the way. No one was injured by the Jeep, though another man is suspected of firing shots at the Jeep and striking two protesters.

"There are pieces of evidence that are missing," Brauchler said Wednesday, and that prosecutors would not be able to prove the driver's intent as he approached protesters who were on the roadway. "I’m left to try to piece together what’s going on in his head before and after. And I think the analysis of these charges against the Jeep driver changes with each stretch of that road. For instance, once he’s struck by that truck, what would a normal person in that situation do? ... I wouldn't have stopped on the road. I don't know anybody that would have. But he presses on, these people moved out of the road. Now there's gunfire. What should he have done after there was gunfire? Pull over and find out why people are shooting at him? No, I wouldn't have. I would have kept going. So we have to take this apart, piece by piece, to figure out — if we're going to allege some sort of a crime, it's never just what happened, it’s what was intended."

Brauchler called the protest scene on the highway a "chaotic environment" said the Jeep driver, whose name is not being released, likely wasn't aware of the protesters on the roadway until his vehicle was close to the crowd.

Brauchler broke down data that investigators collected from the Jeep. Five seconds before the crash with the truck, the Jeep was traveling at 45 mph, 20 mph under the speed limit.

After the crash, the Jeep continued forward on I-225, going about 29 mph and then increasing to about 51 mph, Brauchler said.

Brauchler noted that the driver stayed in the center lanes of the highway and appeared to try to avoid protesters.

Shortly after leaving the scene, the Jeep driver pulled over and contacted Aurora police officers in the area. He told police that his vehicle was struck by a white truck and that protesters hit his Jeep with guitars and were throwing rocks at the vehicle.

Brauchler said possible charges were also considered against the truck driver and the protesters who were on the highway, but that he ultimately opted against pursuing those charges.

Brauchler said the protesters were in violation of the law against blocking a highway. But since prosecutors are still open to receiving additional evidence from witnesses. Brauchler said he did not want to pursue charges against the protesters and possibly prevent someone from coming forward.

Brauchler said the truck driver intentionally crashed into the Jeep but that a jury could credibly find that the driver was trying to protect protesters on the roadway.