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Woman charged after Denver protester struck by car in May; case handed over to DA June 15

protester hit with car.jpeg
Posted at 2:59 PM, Jul 20, 2020

DENVER — The Denver District Attorney charged Monday a 37-year-old woman in a May 28 incident in which she’s accused of hitting a protester with her car on the first night of the Denver George Floyd demonstrations.

Jennifer Watson faces a class one misdemeanor charge of assault in the third degree for knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a protester and one count of reckless driving, the office of Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement.

The incident happened on the evening of May 28 as protesters grew in number in front of the state Capitol in Denver. Video captured by a bystander showed a car on Lincoln Street, where protesters had blocked off the street at Colfax Ave., turning around in the road, hitting the protester and then fleeing the scene.

Police said at the time they were hoping the person who was hit by the car would reach out to them to try to identify the driver of the black SUV, which appeared to be an earlier-model Ford Edge.

The next day, Denver police said they believe they had “pretty solid evidence” in their investigation. DPD Chief Paul Pazen confirmed an investigation was underway that day.

Charges were filed Monday, and Watson publicly identified as the suspect in the case for the first time since the police investigation into the incident was wrapped up and sent over to McCann’s office for consideration of possible charges. The DA’s office has had the case since June 15, according to police.

Watson’s attorney disputes the findings of the police investigation. In a statement to Denver7, an attorney with Brackley Law Office PLLC states the suspect was fearful for her safety at the time if the incident, and claims she has continued to be cooperative with police despite being harassed and threatened by members of the public.

"On the evening of May 28, 2020, my client was just trying to get home, driving a route she took regularly, when she was diverted by protesters at the intersection of East Colfax and Broadway. She was alone in her car with her dog when she was surrounded by people who began kicking and hitting her car and taunting and yelling at her. While stopped, Mr. Max Bailey jumped up onto the hood of her car and her windshield was smashed in two places. She was terrified and fearful for her safety," the statement read.

The attorney claims McCann's office was pressured to file charges in the case based on a one-sided video that went viral on social media.

"The decision to charge Jennifer Watson is unfortunate but we remain confident that she will be fully exonerated. Decisions to charge or not charge should be made based on facts, and what is right and just. Charging my client, particularly after a lengthy period of hesitation and pressure on the District Attorney to charge is simply not the answer to the issues the Denver community is struggling with right now," the statement read.