One Woman Dead, Others Injured After Driver Slams Into MN Protest: Here’s What We Know

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 04: People rally to demand justice for Winston Boogie Smith outside Stella's Fish Cafe on June 4, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Smith was shot and killed yesterday during an altercation with ... MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 04: People rally to demand justice for Winston Boogie Smith outside Stella's Fish Cafe on June 4, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Smith was shot and killed yesterday during an altercation with law enforcement involving multiple agencies. Smith's family is demanding clarity in the case as authorities claim there is no video available from the incident. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) MORE LESS

One woman is dead and others are injured after a man drove into a Minneapolis protest Sunday night.

Here’s what we know: 

A Driver Smashed Into A Protest Of A Police Killing

Demonstrators had gathered in Minneapolis’ Uptown area to protest the shooting death of Winston Smith by undercover sheriff’s deputies earlier this month.

The deputies killed Smith, a Black man and a father, during an arrest attempt by a U.S. Marshals Service task force on June 3. The Marshals say Smith “failed to comply with officers’ commands” and “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.” A woman who was with Smith at the time of the shooting contradicted that, saying through an attorney that she never saw a gun on Smith nor in his vehicle. 

Sunday’s protest was the latest in several days of demonstrations over the killing in Minneapolis. 

Witness Says Driver Sped Up Toward Protest

One witness told Minneapolis Public Radio that the driver sped toward protesters. 

“A car came at us going like 70 or 80 miles an hour,” said D.J. Hooker, an organizer with with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar. “There was one line of barriers and then a second barrier, and he sped up. He sped up. He went even faster as he approached us. You could hear it … start going even faster as he got close to us.”

MPR reported that witnesses saw the car hit a stationary vehicle that had been positioned in the street, apparently in order to protect the crowd. That stationary vehicle in turn hit protesters after being struck, according to the report. 

Photos of the scene from photojournalist Chad Davis show multiple damaged vehicles

Victim Identified By Brother, Police Mum On Motives

Garrett Knajdek told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that his sister Deona M. Knajdek was the protester killed. She would have turned 32 on Wednesday, he said. 

Knajdek, citing information from his mother and police, confirmed to the paper that his sister “was using her car as a street blockade, and another vehicle struck her vehicle and her vehicle struck her.”

Minneapolis police spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to TPM’s questions Monday morning, but John Elder, the department’s director of public information, told news outlets that “the use of drugs or alcohol … may be a contributing factor in this crash.” 

The crash occurred a few minutes before midnight, and Minneapolis Police subsequently reported that a woman had died “as a result of the crash.” Videos from the ground showed a man, presumably the driver, being held in a headlock and then being handed over to law enforcement. 

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: