AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– On Wednesday, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler talked about the investigation into protests in Aurora on July 25 where protesters blocked Interstate 225, something the protest organizers did not have a permit to do. He broke down the events of that day surrounding the protesters and the Jeep, along with other vehicles, that were seen driving through the crowd.
“The only people on the highway legally are the vehicles,” said Brauchler.
Brauchler said that his office will not pursue any criminal charges against anyone involved in the protest who has not already been charged.
He’s asking for more video to help with the investigation, “You can submit anonymously through Crime Stoppers and they will get it to us.”
The driver of the Jeep that drove through a crowd of protesters blocking I-225 on July 25 will not be charged at this time. Brauchler said that according to the statute of limitations, that could change depending on the evidence that comes forward.
“If this guy wanted to run into people, he had plenty of opportunity to do so,” said Brauchler. “He exhibits care to not strike another person.”
Previously, the driver had told CBS4 through his attorney that he was driving to the airport and had a passenger in the car. The driver said he thought the interstate was blocked due to an accident.
The Jeep was seen in video being attacked by the demonstrators.
Brauchler said he tried to imagine what the driver of the Jeep was thinking when he was surrounded on the interstate.
“That’s what I’d be thinking when I was driving down there, like, ‘Holy smokes. What have I gotten myself into? How do I get out of here? What am I going to do?’ And then things just went really crazy after that,” Brauchler said.
The Jeep was also rammed by a F-150 truck being driven by Sebastian Sassi.
Brauchler confirmed during his Wednesday morning briefing that Sassi intentionally rammed the Jeep.
“I do not intend to pursue charges against the F-150 driver at this point,” said Brauchler. “If new evidence comes forward, I might change my mind.”
The Jeep driver’s lawyer previously said his client made no attempt to strike protesters, just to leave. There was no call to 911 because there was no time to react, the attorney said.
One of the demonstrators, Samuel Young, opened fire on the Jeep, striking two other protesters.
The Jeep’s driver was able to get off I-225, pulled in behind a police car and told his story.
“A man with a bat approached the vehicle and then began swinging at the vehicle. We then proceeded to speed off to avoid kind of damage to ourselves and the vehicle,” the Jeep’s passenger said in a video statement posted to YouTube. Aurora Police Deputy Chief Harry Glidden had previously told CBS4, “He felt like he was being threatened. He thought he was going to be attacked and he needed to escape, and that’s what he did.”
A video was then taken by a protester showing the driver and his companion. The attorney said police assisted them in leaving the area.
Sawyer, of O’Malley and Sawyer, LLC, had previously stated that his client was just a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sassi still believes the Jeep driver deliberately tried to harm people.
“(He) saw that there were a lot of people on the highway, drove around people trying to get him to stop, and deliberately drove at that crowd,” said Sassi. “After he hit my truck, he’s making an escape at that point, because he’s been made in his effort to kill people with his Jeep.”
Sassi says the DA’s announcement to not pursue charges against the Jeep driver is his way of sweeping the issue under the rug.
“He would have hit them if I hadn’t intervened,” said Sassi. “He’s reading past or ignoring the testimony of a lot of witnesses.”
“Seeing that post collision conduct he has the ability, in my opinion, to swerve left and swerve right. Nothing to indicate intent or maliciousness to hurt someone. He does exactly the opposite. It seems to me, based on that video, he avoids people and just tries to get out of there,” said Brauchler.
Brauchler said that if they’re going to allege some sort of a crime, it’s never just what happened, it’s what was intended.
While Brauchler believes that if the driver wanted to run into people he had plenty of opportunity to do it, Sassi says the driver “Also had the opportunity to slam on his brakes and not drive 50 mph through a crowd.”
Brauchler said he doesn’t want anyone who may have more video of the Jeep to refrain from turning over possible evidence out of fear they’d be charged as well.