DENVER — Nearly two months after a viral video captured a vehicle hitting a protester near the state capitol, Denver authorities filed misdemeanor and traffic charges against the driver Monday, 9Wants to Know has learned.
According to Denver County Court records, Jennifer Watson, 37, was issued a summons for assault and reckless driving in the wake of the incident May 28 near the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway that began when several people surrounded her SUV and ended when she drove off and her vehicle veered to the right, knocking a man to the ground.
Watson's attorney told 9Wants to Know she was terrified and feared for her safety -- and he said her windshield was broken in the incident.
The attorney, Ryan Brackley, also said that Watson was the first person to call 911 after the incident and that she contacted Denver Police again the following day -- leading to the investigation.
The incident occurred the first day of protests in Denver over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A conviction on the assault charge could mean up to two years in jail.
Video captured at the scene showed Watson, apparently caught in a traffic jam as the protests began, driving west in the eastbound lanes of Colfax and then turning south on Broadway, where about a dozen people surrounded her vehicle.
One man climbed onto her hood – Max Bailey, 22, later told 9NEWS he jumped onto the car because he feared being run over.
“The reason I was in front of the car was to make sure everyone was safe and to get this lady to stop from running over protesters,” Bailey told 9NEWS the day after the incident. “The reason I got on top of the car was because she accelerated into me and I’m not going to lie down and let somebody run over me.”
> Video above: Man who says he was hit by a vehicle at the Denver protest shares his side.
Watson's attorney said she was simply trying to get home when she was "diverted" by protesters near the state capitol.
"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," Brackley told 9Wants to Know. "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."
Brackley said there is more to the case than the video shows.
"The video did not show everything that happened, including my client’s fear and terror as her car was surrounded, as people kicked and hit her car from all sides, taunting and yelling at her, and ultimately smashing her windshield in two places and obstructing her view," he said.
Brackley also suggested McCann -- his former boss -- bowed to political pressure in deciding to file charges (he resigned as her top prosecutor in 2019 after a dispute with other employees).
"The decision to charge Jennifer Watson is unfortunate, but we remain confident that she will be fully exonerated," he said. "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."
Watson, 37, owns an interior design company, according to Colorado Secretary of State business records.
Before today’s announcement, Watson was identified on numerous websites as the driver, including a petition that called for her arrest.
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