3 traffic offenses for man who drove through Minneapolis Ferguson demonstration

The man who drove through a Minneapolis demonstration this November was charged with three traffic offenses on Tuesday. Hundreds of demonstrators blocked E. Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue S. on Nov. 25 the day after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. At least one teenage girl was hurt.

Hennepin County prosecutors decided last month not to charge Jeffrey Rice, 40, of St. Paul, with a felony in connection to the incident, but he was charged by summons in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday with reckless or careless driving, careless driving and failing to use due care to avoid collision with a pedestrian. Rice is slated to appear in court on April 14.

According to charges, Rice's vehicle was stopped in the middle lane on the eastbound side of E. Lake Street on the west side of Minnehaha Avenue S., behind a white vehicle. There was a large crowd of people in the intersection, and Rice pulled out from behind the while vehicle and began to drive through the crowd of people in the street.

"There were several people directly in front of the defendant's vehicle as the defendant drove through the crowd. At least two people were on the hood of defendant's vehicle as he drove through the crowd. The defendant's vehicle struck at least one person, a female, who was pushed by the car for several feet. The crowd of people began attacking the vehicle after it struck the female and the vehicle stopped for several seconds. Several people in the crowd began hitting the vehicle with fists and objects," charges said.

Rice continued to drive through the intersection, almost hitting another vehicle turning right from northbound Minnehaha Ave. S., continued to drive away, stopped and called 911. He admitted to a Minneapolis Police Department traffic investigator that he saw the crowd of people in the street before he drove through them.

The three traffic offenses each include 0 to 90 days in jail and a $0 to $1,000 fine.

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