Black Lives Matter organizer Tatiana Turner has been charged with attempted murder and is facing a potential life sentence after plowing her car into counter-protesters and running over a conservative woman’s head.
Tatiana Turner, 40, of Long Beach, who has a felony record for drug sales and domestic violence, deliberately drove into a crowd of President Trump’s supporters with “the intent to kill” the woman and also seriously injured a man who broke his leg, Orange County prosecutors said.
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‘She positioned her vehicle to be used as a backup weapon and she used that vehicle as a deadly weapon, willing to injure and kill those who stood in her way,’ District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.
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DailyMail report: But a defense lawyer said Turner tried unsuccessfully to get help from cops Saturday in Yorba Linda after her group was overwhelmed by a hostile crowd.
Turner saw people with guns and feared for her life when she got into her car that was blocked by Trump supporters, attorney Ludlow Creary II said.
According to Newser, Turner called 911 but ‘got the runaround‘. She then appealed to cops on the ground but was also refused help, they claim.
‘Sheriff’s deputies on scene didn’t do anything,’ Creary said.
He said she was trying to get away and didn’t intend to hit anyone.
‘There were actions that caused her to become fearful for her life and that’s when she accelerated,’ Creary added.
‘She wasn’t trying to hit anybody. She wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.’
An ambulance took away one person after being hit by a car. A second is still here injured. pic.twitter.com/C2RtDfRWjj— Brian Rokos (@Brian_Rokos) September 26, 2020
This is from @buffalo_baff IG LIVE pic.twitter.com/CPvivZL2Gd— Resist, Esq. (@ResistEsq) September 26, 2020
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, however, has claimed Turner was not in any danger when she accelerated.
‘It did not appear from the video we’ve been able to see that there was a direct threat,’ spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.
‘I wasn’t there and wasn’t sitting in the vehicle. I don’t want to say what she could, would or should have done. Clearly any time an incident like this occurs it’s tragic for everybody involved.’
Turner made her first appearance in court remotely from the jail and was ordered held on $1 million bail. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf by her lawyer.
According to NBC Los Angeles, the charges hold a potential life sentence.
The incident is one of more than 100 where motorists have plowed into demonstrations since late May, following protests against police brutality that grew nationwide over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer, according to Ari Weil, deputy director on the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago.
The vast majority of those cases tallied by Weil involved motorists who ran into those demonstrating for causes aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, Weil said.
He knows of only one other instance where that wasn’t the case when a man drove into a people rallying in support of police officers in Eaton, Colorado, in July.
‘It’s a man bites dog case when compared to the usual pattern,’ said Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California.
Armour said it may be difficult for prosecutors to prove Turner tried to kill someone because it requires showing she was more than just reckless or negligent.
‘When you’re talking about attempted murder, you’re talking a requirement that the state prove that … she drove into the crowd with the true purpose to cause someone’s death,’ Armour said.
‘That says something about their motivations, their character, their state of mind. It’s a value judgment. It’s a moral judgment.‘
Prosecutors are alleging just that. The felony complaint said Turner had the ‘specific intent to kill‘ the woman who was run over.
The victim has not been named. Authorities said she was hospitalized with major injuries.
Turner, who has a felony record for drug sales and domestic violence, is also charged with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, including one count for causing great bodily injury, mayhem, and two counts of the use of pepper spray by a felon.
Turner’s group, Urban Organizers Coalition, had planned a peaceful march Saturday at the Yorba Linda Library, about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
But they were quickly outnumbered and threatened by the other group, Creary said.
The DA, however, referred to Turner’s group as ‘professional militant organizers‘.
Turner was seen in videos waving a baton and spraying what appeared to be pepper spray earlier in the protest. Some members of her group had helmets and riot shields.
Creary said the charges were excessive.
‘In my opinion, it’s a message to activists that go to OC,‘ Creary said.
‘They want to let them know that they’re going to push to the full extent of the law against activists. Again, it’s part of the hostile environment.‘
The chaos unfolded as about 250 people gathered, some with a group called Caravan4Justice supporting Black Lives Matter, and others to stage a nearby counter-protest supporting Trump.
Federal records show that Turner filed a trademark application for Caravan4Justice in July, and a GoFundMe campaign names her as the group’s ‘founder’.
Police confirmed that Turner is believed to be a member of the Caravan4Justice.
It was around 3pm, police say, when a car in the parking lot of the of the Yorba Linda Public Library at 18181 Imperial Highway accelerated into the road and struck at least two individuals.
‘Oh my God!‘ a woman is heard screaming on video as the white Nissan Versa accelerates into the crowd, knocking the demonstrators to the pavement and speeding away.
Furious crowd members chased the car, hitting it with flag poles, but within seconds police intervened, taking the female driver into custody.
The two injured people, a man and a woman, were taken to a hospital, said Braun.
The man suffered two broken legs and the woman had major injuries. They are both expected to survive.