(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) — A North Carolina judge has been charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly almost hitting Black Lives Matter protesters with his car.
In a video of the May 7 incident released by police, an SUV reportedly driven by North Carolina Appeals Court Judge John M. Tyson appears to drive around a traffic circle past protesters, then move into the innermost lane of the circle near where protesters are standing and drive past them again.
The inner lane is painted with a mural that reads “Black Lives Do Matter. End Racism Now.” The lane is not open for traffic, according to local law enforcement officials.
According to The Fayetteville Observer, Myah Warren, a demonstrator at the scene, swore before a Cumberland County magistrate that Tyson nearly hit protesters with his car.
A court summons has been issued, the court confirmed, and court records show Tyson’s court date is June 21. He’ll need to appear in court to answer to the charge.
Tyson told the local newspaper that he called 911 to report people blocking traffic, claiming that protesters were gathering around his car.
The surveillance footage does not appear to show exactly how close the SUV came to protesters or any demonstrators surrounding Tyson’s car.
Several states have implemented or introduced bills that protect some drivers who hit protesters with their cars. Protesters often block roadways and stop traffic during demonstrations. Following 2020’s summer-long protests against police brutality, legislators in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah proposed increased penalties for demonstrators who halt traffic and would grant immunity for drivers who hit them. North Carolina does not have this kind of law.
Tyson has been a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals for almost 14 years total and has taught law at Campbell University since 1987, according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch website.
Tyson and his lawyer, David T. Courie Sr., did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment, but Courie told The Fayetteville Observer that he had seen the surveillance footage and it will be “labeled Defense Exhibit #1.”
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