Police: Vehicle Plows into Minnesota Protesters, Killing 1

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -
Authorities work the scene at the site of a shooting involving a police officer, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)

A woman was killed and another person was injured after being struck by a car during a protest in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood where a Black man was fatally shot earlier this month during an arrest attempt, police said Monday.

The suspect was pulled from his vehicle by protesters after the 11:39 p.m. Sunday crash, taken into police custody and was being treated for injuries at a hospital, police said. Police did not say how the man was hurt or give the extent of his injuries.

A witness said the man driving an SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed and appeared to accelerate as he got closer to demonstrators who had blocked off a street. The driver struck a car parked across one of the traffic lanes, and that car then hit people.

“There was one line of barriers and then a second barrier, and he sped up. He sped up. He went even faster as he approached us. You could hear it… start going even faster as he got close to us,” D.J. Hooker said.
Witnesses said the SUV hit the car hard enough to send it flying.

“The car went through the air and it hit a young woman,” Hooker told Minnesota Public Radio.

Another witness, Brett Williams, said the woman struck by the car that had been hit was thrown into a stop light.

Police said the driver’s motive was not immediately known. A statement from police said a preliminary investigation indicated that the use of drugs or alcohol by the driver may be a contributing factor in the crash.

Police earlier said that three protesters had been injured, but later revised that number to two, including the woman who died.

There have been ongoing protests in Uptown, about 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) south of the city’s downtown, since the June 3 shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr., a 32-year-old father of three, by members of a federal U.S. Marshals Service task force. The Uptown area includes a mix of trendy restaurants, shops and theaters popular with the city’s younger professionals, many living in apartments and condominiums in the area.

Authorities have said Smith, who was wanted on a weapons violation, fired a gun before deputies fatally shot him in Minneapolis, a city on edge since George Floyd’s death more than a year ago under an officer’s knee and the more recent fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright in a nearby suburb.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were trying to arrest Smith on a warrant for allegedly being a felon in possession of a gun, authorities said. The Marshals Service said in a statement that Smith, who was in a parked vehicle, didn’t comply with law enforcement and “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.”

Smith died at the scene. State investigators said Smith’s passenger, a 27-year-old woman, was treated for injuries from glass debris. The woman, however, said she never saw a gun on Smith or in the vehicle, her attorneys said last week — contradicting investigators’ claims about Smith’s actions.