Friday, September 25, 2020

EPD Preliminary Investigation: Protester Possibly at Fault in Last Night's Collision

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge A demonstrator injured by a vehicle on the intersection of 5th and I Streets in Eureka has their injury evaluated. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • A demonstrator injured by a vehicle on the intersection of 5th and I Streets in Eureka has their injury evaluated.
The Eureka Police Department has opened an investigation into an incident during last night's Breonna Taylor protest in which a protester was hit by a truck and suffered non life-threatening injury to her foot.

"Preliminary findings indicate that the pedestrian may have placed herself in the path of the vehicle at the time of the collision," an EPD press release states.


While EPD estimates about 60 people attended last night's demonstration, other estimates indicate as many as 200 people turned out as part of a nationwide protest of a Louisville, Kentucky, grand jury's decision not to indict the two officers who fatally shot Taylor while serving a search warrant at the emergency medical technician's home.

In its press release, EPD said it had officers present to monitor the protest "for the purpose of ensuring that no issues arose that hampered this constitutionally protected activity or posed any significant public safety concerns. Soon after the demonstration began, protesters began marching and blocking Fourth and Fifth streets to traffic and there were two reports of minor vandalism.

"As the evening processed and became darker, it became more difficult for motorists to see demonstrators in the roadway, due to many of the swearing all dark clothing and not wearing any type of reflective clothing or carrying lights," the release states.

The pedestrian was hit shortly after 7:30 p.m., the EPD press release states, and the demonstration had dispersed by 8.

The EPD press release "reminds" the public that it is unsafe for pedestrians to walk in active roadways and that California vehicle code holds that pedestrians outside crosswalks should "yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard." The release also notes the vehicle code section "shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway."

EPD Chief Steve Watson said his department has tried to be "understanding and adaptable" and give "broad latitude" of protesters' right to demonstrate as the county confronts "important issues."

"However, it is important to understand EPD cannot insure the safety of those who choose to disregard the law by intentionally stepping in front of vehicles and blocking major streets and intersections," he said. "Over the past several months, all enforcement has seen a concerning pattern of protesters purposefully impeding and surrounding the vehicles of uninvolved motorists trapped by animated crowds. Several instances have occurred during demonstrations where this intentionally disruptive activity has escalated to some protesters striking, jumping on and damaging vehicles. There have also been instances where it appears certain drivers have failed to exercise due care for the safety of pedestrians upon the roadway as they attempted to navigate or escape through the crowds. These actions by both pedestrians and drivers have contributed to several reported vehicle versus pedestrian collisions and in some cases injuries. While most demonstrators have been peaceful, this irresponsible and dangerous behavior by a few needs to stop."

See the full EPD press release here and find coverage of last night's demonstration here.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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