CENTENNIAL – A man who drove his Jeep through a demonstration on an interstate in suburban Denver, drawing gunfire that injured two protesters, will not face charges unless more evidence comes to light, prosecutors said Wednesday.
District Attorney George Brauchler said during a news conference that there was no visual evidence the driver aimed at anyone on the highway during the July 25 protest over the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after being stopped by police in Aurora last year.
“It seems to me he avoids people wherever possible and just tries to get out of there,” the district attorney said, noting that the driver and his passenger have turned down prosecutors’ requests for interviews.
The driver of the Jeep was not arrested, but his vehicle was seized as evidence. He said protesters on Interstate 225 in Aurora surrounded his vehicle and were yelling and striking it with bats and rocks, and that he drove through the crowd because he was scared and was trying to get away, police said. He also said a pickup crashed into his Jeep.
Brauchler said he evaluated a series of possible charges against the driver of the Jeep based on the evidence so far, including attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and attempted felony manslaughter. He also said he did not intend to pursue charges against the driver of the pickup who deliberately struck the Jeep, arguing that it appeared he was trying to protect pedestrians on the highway.
Police have arrested Samuel Alvin Young of Wheat Ridge on four counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of assault on accusations of firing at the Jeep during the melee, hitting two protesters.
Joseph Quinton Sagrillo, 21, was shot in the left leg, and Creyton Loud, 26, was grazed near the temple.
Young is being represented by the state public defender’s office, which does not comment about cases.
The protest was organized in support of McClain, who was arrested in August 2019 after someone called 911 to report a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms while he walked down the street.
He was arrested by Aurora police and injected with 500 milligrams of ketamine by EMS workers called to the scene. He suffered cardiac arrest, was declared brain dead and taken off life support less than a week later.
McClain’s death has become a national rallying cry along with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in protests calling for police reform.