White Man Who 'Intentionally' Rammed Van Into Bus Stop With Black Pedestrians Probably Won’t Go To Jail
"That car is no different from a gun," Tyrone Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council, said.
Update (September 5, 2019): An 83-year-old white man was charged with plowing his van into a bus stop, but he won't face any time in prison.
George Reeves Jensen was charged with five counts of criminal vehicular operation, WCCO reported. On July 9, the older man reportedly hit a bus before he rammed into a Minneapolis bus stop with his van.
"The two wheels on the passenger side went up on the curb. He accelerated slightly and smashed into the bus shelter, injuring five people," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
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The victims, all of whom were Black, sustained several serious injuries. One of them was left with a traumatic brain injury and fractured ribs. Another suffered a lacerated spleen, fractured legs, a lung contusion and scalp wounds. A third lost a significant amount of blood along with fractured bones. The final two were left with a fractured spine and fractured ribs, respectively.
Despite the severity of the injuries, Jensen won't spend a day in jail.
"This is a strange case and this is a place where Minnesota statutes seem lacking," Freeman admitted during a press conference.
Jensen's criminal history and Minnesota's sentencing guidelines saved him.
"Under the sentencing guideline commission, if you have a clean record, even if you [cause] great bodily harm, you will not go to prison unless you have more [of a] criminal history, so this man will not go to prison when he's found guilty for this," Freeman explained.
The revelation angered community leaders who want Freeman removed from the case, according to StarTribune.
Activists Ora Hokes, Ron Edwards, Spike Moss and Tyrone Terrill announced plans to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to take over.
"What does it take to be charged with a hate crime?" said Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council. "That car is no different from a gun."
"If a Black driver had deliberately crashed into a bus stop shelter full of white people, seriously injuring several, the charges would be completely different," said Edwards.
Jensen's first court appearance is scheduled for September 23.
Original: Authorities in Minneapolis arrested and then released a motorist who crashed his van into a crowd of Black bus riders waiting for their route.
The man, who is reportedly 83 years old, drove his dark tan Ford transport van into a bus shelter where the riders waited. According to local news outlet KSTP, the motorist clipped the mirror of a bus prior to the crash. Metro Transit officials and eyewitnesses said the man drove around in circles to intentionally ram into riders.
Eyewitness Derwin Tombert recalled the driver speeding up moments before the tragic incident.
"He came through the parking lot, hit the corner and accelerated, and that's when we ran over to the bus stop," Tombert told KSTP.
The van jumped the curb and landed on at least one man. Six men were injured in the crash in total. Three of them are reportedly in critical condition and are being treated at the North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, reports The Star Tribune.
Videos captured by a pedestrian at the scene show the aftermath — mangled bus shelter and the glass scattered about the place.
Part 2 pic.twitter.com/ASgpVfM0p6— SAVOY🇺🇸 (@thesavoyshow) July 9, 2019'
Part 4 pic.twitter.com/hL01WWifmW— SAVOY🇺🇸 (@thesavoyshow) July 9, 2019'
There are some who speculate the incident was racially motivated. Witness Shauntae Cosby told The Star Tribune the 83-year-old, who was white, had no remorse and "didn’t look worried" when police arrested him.
"Nobody could believe what happened. It was just quiet,” said witness Shauntae Cosby,
However, at the moment, police have yet to call the crash a racial attack. The driver has since been released by police while an investigation is currently ongoing.
Metro Transit Spokesperson Howie Padilla said the men injured were longtime riders and their lives are important to the community.
"Those individuals are on our minds, obviously if they're near or in our shelter, they're our riders, they are our community," Padilla told The Star Tribune.
In an effort to discover the motive behind the driver's actions, the Metro Transit will scan the area for surveillance and other kinds of video.
"Obviously there are areas where there's going to be video that we'll be looking to download and help tell the story," Padilla said.
Police have not ruled out alcohol or drug usage as factors in the crash.