New York cops probing motorist who drove into Times Square protesters

New York City detectives are trying to determine whether a motorist who drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square on Thursday night committed a crime, the city’s police commissioner said.

Video of the incident, shared widely on social media, shows a black Ford Taurus driving through a group of marchers and people on bicycles in Times Square, a major tourist destination and entertainment centre in Manhattan.

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Friday that detectives were investigating the incident. He noted that no one has come forward with injuries and that two protesters had struck the window of the car.

“We have to interview both sides. We’d like to interview anyone that was in that vehicle, because we believe there was multiple people in that vehicle, and anyone that was on the scene,” Shea said on Fox 5’s Good Day New York.

The NYPD said on Twitter that the car wasn’t a police vehicle.

The demonstrators had gathered to protest the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, after an encounter with police in Rochester, New York, in March. The incident has become the latest flash point in a summer of civil unrest over racism and police brutality.

The Times Square protest followed similar demonstrations in Rochester this week triggered by the release of body camera footage of Prude’s arrest showing police officers putting a hood over his head – apparently to prevent his spit from possibly transmitting the novel coronavirus – as he knelt on the ground, handcuffed and naked.

Seven police officers were suspended on Thursday in connection with Prude’s arrest and death, which the medical examiner has ruled a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” An autopsy also cited acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or the drug PCP, among additional contributing factors to his death, according to the New York Times.

Prude’s family has called for the arrest of the officers involved in the March 23 incident in the upstate New York city.

With a file from The Associated Press

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