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The New York City woman who drove her car through a crowd of protesters last year has chosen to take her chances with a trial by jury rather than accept a plea deal that would have let her off the hook with only six days of community service.
On Wednesday, 52-year-old Kathleen Casillo of Queens appeared in a Manhattan courtroom after she was charged with reckless assault in the third degree for the incident that occurred last year and left multiple people injured.
Casillo, who had the option of completing the community service along with having her driver’s license suspended for a year, rejected the plea deal, placing her fate in the hands of a jury of her peers according to a report by the Daily Mail.
On December 11, 2020, during a midtown Manhattan demonstration, Casillo drove her black BMW through the crowd, injuring at least nine people leading to her arrest. She was given a “desk appearance” ticket for misdemeanor reckless endangerment with the stricter charge being added during a court appearance in February.
She contended that she was surrounded and stepped on the gas in an effort to get away, according to the New York Post, telling police at the time that the protesters were banging on the vehicle. Casillo claims that some in the mob called her “a white privilege b**ch,” according to the Daily Mail.
The incident was captured on video.
(Video: CBS New York)
BLM protesters gathered outside of the courtroom where they demanded that Casillo face harsher charges, with some of them carrying signs likening her to Kyle Rittenhouse, the recently acquitted teen whose trial became a flashpoint in the acrimonious culture wars that have swept America following the death of George Floyd who perished while being arrested last summer.
Kathleen Casillo is Kyle Rittenhouse, the only difference is we lived. pic.twitter.com/d6sgwOCt6L
— no, its not me (@catsnotcops) December 1, 2021
Hey @ManhattanDA do your damn job and charge Kathleen Casillo who on dec 11th ran over and sent 6 BLM protestors to the hospital. We were marching against ICE. She has spent holidays with her family while people are locked away for just existing. #kathleencasillo #fuckICE #blm pic.twitter.com/Ns6x472fYj
— Megan (@mwatsonnyc) December 1, 2021
#Protesters gathered outside 100 Centre Street almost one year after #KathleenCasillo plowed through their #demonstration with her #BMW. #nyc #news #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/RJVMhK0bGv
— Dean_Moses (@Dean_Moses) December 1, 2021
One protester who was struck by the vehicle appeared at the rally and invoked “white supremacy” as the driving force behind Casillo’s actions.
“Last year on Dec. 11, Kathleen Casillo drove her car at top speed through a crowd of human beings. I was one of those human beings—I never saw her coming. She hit me flush from behind and set my body flying and flipping through the air and she kept driving,” Roque Rodriguez said, according to AMNY.
“It’s white supremacy that allowed Kathleen to believe she had the right to end the lives of anyone that got in her way, especially BLM protesters,” Rodriguez added.
Tabitha Howell who was also hit said, “It has been a very long year. Kathleen Castillo’s car left me with five bulging discs in my back and a traumatic brain injury. It’s one thing to face physical recovery. It’s another to try to process what happened mentally and emotionally,” AMNY reported.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Mercer was also criticized by the protesters for what some felt was the overly lenient treatment of Casillo.
“Andrew Mercer neglected to follow up with seven of the nine people who were directly hit and impacted by this crime. You’ve never spoken to them. He did no due diligence, and instead assumed that Kathleen did not have bad intentions and that no one else was seriously harmed,” said Rodriguez.
Whether or not Casillo will be able to convince a jury that her actions were driven by extenuating circumstances is unknown but the case could soon draw national attention if activists have their way.
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