Two people injured after a car drove through a group of protesters in Times Square Thursday evening have met with the NYPD to file a formal complaint, lawyers announced at a press conference Saturday.
The protesters who interviewed with police are two of five individuals who were struck by the black sedan and suffered "serious personal injury," their lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said. Those injuries are said to include fractures and head injuries that required stitches.
"What we're asking for is the Manhattan district attorney to bring charges of assault with a deadly weapon," the lawyer said. "This city should be a city in which peaceful protests can take place without the risk of being seriously injured. Unfortunately that's not what happened."
Protesters were demonstrating over the death of 41-year-old Daniel Prude, a Black man who died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the "spit hood" encounter with police in Rochester. He had been taken into custody for a mental health evaluation about eight hours before the confrontation.
The three other protesters injured Thursday evening intend to make a report as well, Rubenstein added. The two who filed a report on Saturday did not identify themselves at the following press conference out of fear of public retribution.
On Friday, the NYPD said it could not take any action against the driver or occupants of the black sedan because a report had not been filed.
Videos posted on social media immediately following the alleged assault showed the sedan careening down West 46th Street, its horn blaring, as demonstrators scrambled out of the way.
At one point, social media users who saw the video speculated about whether the vehicle was an unmarked police car because it had a push bar, also commonly known as a bullbar or push bumper, that's found on NYPD vehicles and other SUVs. The NYPD tweeted clearly, "This auto is NOT an NYPD vehicle," and said no complaints had been filed in the incident, hindering the investigation.
Police also said they specifically told the five counter protesters inside the car to turn through the taxi well at the nearby Marriott to avoid the protesters, but the car went straight through the crowd instead.
A passenger in the vehicle, Juliet Germanotta, said she saw "my life flash in front of me" as she saw protesters gather around the vehicle. She said the driver was a pro-police activist but not part of their group, and offered to drive them away because, she says, “a mob” was trying to attack them.
"The protesters got on 46th Street, blocked us in. Started trying to open the car, hitting the car," Germanotta said. "The driver then drove through to try and get us to safety."
She had posted on her Instagram page a video showing her decked out in Keep America Great gear, saying there was set to be "a peaceful group of protesters coming out here." Germanotta has previously clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters, and has been taken into custody multiple time for dumping paint on the mural outside Trump Tower.
She said that the driver "saved our lives" and that police have interviewed all six people who were in the car, and continue to investigate the incident.
Vehicle history records indicate the car involved in the Times Square incident was initially a government-owned vehicle in Rhode Island starting in 2013 and was sold to a private owner in New Jersey last November. It was sold again to a private owner in New York in late July.
The news site Gothamist reported Friday that the vehicle’s license plate matched a Ford Taurus Police Interceptor linked to pro-police activist Hakim Gibson, whose Instagram page is filled with portraits of police officers around the city.