White North Carolina motorist who struck Black protesters may face hate crime charges

2 minute read

Protesters march through the streets eleven days after sheriff's deputies killed Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, U.S. May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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May 25 (Reuters) - Police in Elizabeth City, North Carolina said on Tuesday they were investigating whether a white motorist committed a hate crime when she struck two Black demonstrators who were protesting the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown.

Lisa Michelle O'Quinn, 41, drove her vehicle into two 42-year-old women who were "peacefully protesting and exercising their constitutional rights" on Monday evening, the Elizabeth City Police Department said in a statement.

A cell phone video aired on local news showed a motorist behind the wheel of a white car driving into the women as they walked on a residential street with other protesters who were calling for justice for Brown, 42, who was killed by deputies on April 21.

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The two women were taken to a local hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.

The police shooting of Brown in the riverfront community of 18,000 residents captured national attention, coming a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in a highly publicized trial.

Prosecutors charged O'Quinn with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill by the use of a motor vehicle, one count of careless and reckless conduct and one count of unsafe movement.

Police said they were investigating the incident as a potential hate crime involving aggravating factors that may lead to a longer sentence for O'Quinn if she is convicted.

O'Quinn was being held in jail on a $40,000 bond. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if O'Quinn had a lawyer.

Last week, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said the killing of Brown was justified because he endangered the lives of deputies by driving toward them. read more Lawyers for Brown's family have described his death as an execution.

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Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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