NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police sources confirm detectives have spoken to a man who they believe was the driver who rammed through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square on Thursday night.
Police said Friday that they had identified the person behind the wheel.
Sources say the person came in for questioning and was released without charges. Police say the investigation is ongoing, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports.
Cellphone video captured the sound of a car horn clashing with protester chants, followed by a black car with tinted windows driving through the crowd before speeding off.
It could then be seen on EarthCam whipping around the corner, leaving behind a shaken group.
“Hit the person in front of me, and then me, and then I believe the person behind me. We all had bikes, so they just came charging through,” Brooklyn resident Lora Gettelfinger told CBS2. “It was pretty terrifying.”
Police described heated moments between the group and counter protesters. One was asked to leave and drive around the protest, but police said the driver — who BLM protesters claimed was a “Trump supporter” — drove right into the march.
“I saw a black car driving through people, while people were screaming and trying to get out of the way for their lives,” said Desmond Maireio, of the Bronx.
PROTESTS AND POLICE REFORMS
- Writer David Simon, The Wire Creator, Discusses Policing In America With CBS2’s Maurice DuBois
- Timothy Cardinal Dolan Throws Support Behind NYPD, Calls For An End To ‘Attacks’
- CBS2 Speaks With Members Of Cure Violence Group Man Up! Inc.
- NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams On What’s Next When It Comes To Race
- Documentary Filmmaker Marshall Curry Discusses Where The Conversation Goes From Here
- Schomburg Center Releases ‘Black Liberation Reading List’
- Black Parents Describe Tough Conversations About Racism With Their Children
- Complete CBS2 Coverage
Police said the counter protesters had parked their Ford Taurus on West 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. They were asked to drive a short distance on West 46th Street and make a right through a taxi well to avoid the protest.
Instead, they passed the taxi well and continued on 46th Street to a light at Broadway, where protesters started banging on the vehicle, police said.
“Just as it hits that intersection, you have the group of protesters — 200 roughly — as fate would have it, start to move in that direction and start to go down 46th Street,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in an interview Friday. “You have a bicyclist block the car from moving. We have two people that strike the car window, one with a punch, one banging on it, and you have the car speed away right through the crowd.”
Watch Alice Gainer’s report —
The NYPD used the cellphone video and traffic cameras in the investigation, and said the car had out-of-state plates.
“This car is definitely without a doubt not an NYPD owned police car,” Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo said. “We have a good idea of who the car belonged to.”
Police say at this time it’s unclear if it was an intentional act.
Protesters returned to Times Square on Friday to call for the driver’s arrest.
“We will not be bullied out of these streets by white supremacists,” protester Nupol Kiazolu said.
“There’s zero question in my mind that what he did was intentional,” protester Hercules Reid said.
Reid was standing directly in the car’s path when it came through the crowd Thursday.
“My friend Larry actually pulled me out of the way,” he told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “I would’ve been dead if it were not for him.”
This is not the first time something like this has happened. In July, an SUV drove through a rally in Times Square.
“I am tired of people believing that this movement is a violent movement when we do nothing violent day in and day out,” protester Na-Lekan Masego said.
“Nobody touched them while they were in the car. They came to us,” Reid said.
Police say right now they have no reports of injuries. They ask any witnesses or victims to come forward and file a report.
You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.