Two months after a man drove his Jeep through a protest on Interstate 225 in Aurora, the district attorney of that jurisdiction just announced that the driver will not face charges.
"I don't have that evidence here," 18th Judicial District District Attorney George Brauchler said during a September 23 press conference as he discussed the incident and possible charges. "I just don't see it."
In announcing his decision, Brauchler delivered a presentation that included video footage, photos, statements and internal car data all related to what took place on the northbound lanes of I-225 on Saturday, July 25.
During that demonstration to honor the memory of Elijah McClain and protest federal law enforcement activities then taking place in Portland, protesters headed out onto I-225 and began blocking traffic. The driver of the Jeep, Kyle Faulkison, pulled onto I-225 heading northbound after swerving around a protester who had set up her motorbike in front of an on-ramp entrance, according to Brauchler. The woman then got on her motorbike and headed after the jeep.
As the Jeep got closer to the protesters, the driver of a white Ford F-150 swerved his vehicle into the Jeep, Brauchler stated. At the time of impact, the Jeep was going 40 miles per hour.
A nearby protester, Samuel Young, then allegedly fired multiple shots at the Jeep in an apparent attempt to stop it. Two protesters were struck by errant bullets. Young is now facing multiple charges of attempted first-degree murder.
For the first forty feet after the collision with the truck, the Jeep was traveling at about 29 miles an hour, then picked up to about 40 miles per hour for the next forty feet and then 51 miles per hour for the last forty feet, at which point it had passed most of the protesters, who'd run to the side of the highway.
"Through the entire distance...this Jeep really stays in the center lanes of the highway here," Brauchler said, noting that the driver had the "ability in my opinion to swerve left, swerve right, [in a way that would] indicate some type of intent or maliciousness to hurt someone on his part," but instead did the "opposite." Both Faulkison and a passenger in the Jeep declined interview requests from the DA's office, Brauchler said.
After Faulkison exited the highway, he contacted nearby police.
Brauchler won't be charging the driver of the Ford F-150, either.
"My sense of it is, given his vantage point, the role that he believed he was playing, and his observations, I do think that a jury could pretty credibly find that this guy thought he was doing what he was to protect people," Brauchler said.
In recent years, drivers have intentionally rammed their cars into protesters, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when Heather Heyer was killed in a car attack perpetrated by a white supremacist. During the wave of protests set off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, there were multiple instances of individuals driving their cars through protests.
Early in the Denver protests, a woman drove her car through a line of protesters near the Capitol, striking a man who was seemingly trying to get out of the way. After several weeks, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann charged Jennifer Watson, the driver of that vehicle, with third-degree assault and reckless driving; through her attorney, Watson denied any wrongdoing.
On September 18, Brauchler and 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young announced that charges had been filed against a half-dozen protesters in connection with the July 25 protests in Aurora, which included both the action on I-225 and a demonstration that surrounded Aurora Police Department headquarters.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.