Jared Benjamin Lafer, who last September drove his SUV through a tiny assemblage of Black Lives Matter protesters in Johnson City, Tennessee, and then sped away — leaving behind a man with a concussion, brain bleed, and two broken legs — will face no charges, reported The Daily Beast.
A Tennessee grand jury recently returned a “no true” bill — a declaration by jurors that there was not enough evidence to indict the 27-year-old even after a judge had reduced the charges against him from aggravated assault, a Class C felony, to reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. Among the materials that apparently left the grand jurors unmoved was cellphone video documenting Lafer rolling over the protester with his truck, narrowly missing the protester’s dog, and almost striking a second person who jumped out of the car’s unswerving path before it accelerated away from the scene.
The same footage made the rounds on social media last year as Tennessee police conducted a two-day manhunt for the hit-and-run driver, who they identified as Lafer after witnesses identified his out-of-state licence plate number. Lafer never returned to the scene to check on his victim, but instead drove to his home state of North Carolina, hired a lawyer to talk with the cops on the case, and turned himself in two days after committing the crime.
By the time of the arrest, Lafer’s earlier social media posts joking about running over protesters had been scrubbed from the internet, preserved only in screengrabs captured by a local progressive news site.
Victoria Hewlett, who was sitting in a parked car with her husband at an intersection just yards from the scene, told The Daily Beast that protesters were crossing the road in a pattern consistent with the walk signal. She says that Lafer pulled up behind her car, then swerved around her vehicle “pretty aggressively,” before rounding the corner and driving “directly into where the protesters were in the crosswalk.” She says — and Jonathan Bowers, Lafer’s primary victim, also states in a hospital-bed affidavit and subsequent testimony — that Lafer rolled slowly, without breaking, into the intersection, “bumped” him with his truck, and then suddenly “floored” the vehicle, running him over and leaving him unconscious in the road.
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