Great Britain

Nicholas David Kraus charged with murder after ‘killing woman & hurting 3’ when car RAMMED into Winston Smith protesters

A MAN has been charged with murder after he allegedly crashed into a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators, killing one and hurting three others, while driving drunk over the weekend.

Prosecutors say Nicholas Kraus, 35, was visibly intoxicated on Sunday night when he sped up and tried to "jump" a car that was being used as a barricade by protesters in Uptown Minneapolis.

Kraus, who was allegedly driving with a suspended license, told police that upon seeing the barricade he felt the need to "get over it", a criminal complaint states.

Rather than braking, he allegedly told investigators he decided to speed up, despite seeing a crowd of people gathered nearby.

Kraus ended up plowing into the car, killing mother-of-two Deona Knajdek, 32, and injuring three others.

Knajdek and the group had been protesting the death of Winston Boogie Smith, who was shot dead by police earlier this month after he allegedly pulled a gun during an arrest. Smith was wanted on a state arrest warrant for possession of a firearm by a felon.

There’s nothing in the criminal complaint to suggest Kraus’ actions were motivated by political views or anger at protesters.

It does, however, say that he admitted that he thought he might have hit someone during the crash.

He was arrested early Monday morning and initially booked on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide, suspicion of driving after a license was canceled and providing false information to police.

On Wednesday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office upgraded the homicide charge against Kraus to Murder in the Second Degree.

The murder count alleges Kraus intended to cause death, but his actions were not premeditated.

He’s also charged with two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, for injuring two other protesters.

Kraus will make his first court appearance on Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

He’s being held at the Hennepin County jail without bond.

Kraus has five prior convictions for driving while impaired dating back to a 2007 incident, according to online court records.

Court records also show his driver’s license was canceled in 2013 because he was found to be “inimical to public safety.”

A search warrant affidavit obtained by TV station KARE-11 says Kraus admitted several times that he was responsible for Sunday night's crash, without being asked, though gave non-sensical answers when when asked specific questions.

The affidavit states that Kraus told police his name was Jesus Christ and Tim Burton, that he had been a carpenter for 2,000 years, and that he wanted to get his children to the Super Bowl.

Police noted that his pupils were small and didn't react to a flashlight.

A field sobriety test could not be performed because of his injuries, police said.

Knajdek was first identified as the victim in the deadly crash by her distraught family members on Monday.

Her brother, Garrett, told the Star Tribune that his sister was "using her car as a street blockade" when another vehicle "struck her vehicle and her vehicle struck her."

"She constantly sacrificing herself for everyone around her," he said, "no matter the cost, obviously."

Protests have been ongoing in Uptown since members of a US Marshals Service task force fatally shot Winston Boogie Smith Jr., a 32-year-old black man and father of three, on June 3.

Authorities said they were trying to arrest Smith on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm when he displayed a handgun from inside a parked SUV.

Police also say evidence shows Smith fired his gun from inside the SUV, but a female passenger has said she never saw him with a gun.

Minneapolis has been on edge since the death of George Floyd, who died last year after an officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground, and the fatal police shooting of another Black man, Daunte Wright, in a nearby suburb.

On Tuesday, city crews began clearing and reopening streets near the site of Smith’s shooting and Knajdek’s death, but after police left, protesters moved back in and blocked traffic.

Police say 30 people were arrested Tuesday night, with most receiving misdemeanor citations.

The street was open to traffic Wednesday afternoon.

Though obstructions to traffic were removed, a memorial featuring messages in chalk and flowers left by mourners remained intact.

Car plows into crowd and 'critically hurts several as driver tries to run'

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