Driver who hit protesters under Reno Arch pleads guilty, gets no jail time

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The man who ran through a crowd with his truck under the Reno Arch in October will not receive any jail time.

Nicholas Mahaffey who was 18 at the time of the incident was not charged with anything related to driving through the Columbus Day protesters because both he and his 17-year-old passenger were threatened and punched after they stopped their vehicle in front of the protesters who were blocking Virginia Street under the Reno Arch.

Videos posted on social media showed Mahaffey driving past the group as it marched up north Virginia Street and yelling at them before driving south on Virginia Street to meet the protesters as they blocked the street under the Arch.

He was charged with provoking an assault.

Mahaffey plead guilty and was sentenced to 14 weeks of anger management counseling and will serve 120 hours of community service.

October 13, 2016:
The third person charged in the Columbus Day protest confrontation under the Reno Arch has been arrested, Washoe County jail records show.

Unlike the two other defendants, James Fletcher, 24, remains in the Washoe County jail.

Fletcher was a protestor and was charged with misdemeanor battery after allegedly striking driver Nicholas Mario Mahaffey, 18, as Mahaffey pulled up in front of protestors blocking Virginia Street under the Reno Arch.

But Fletcher was also booked for a no bail felony count of violating probation or conditions of a suspended sentence. So while he was booked into jail on Saturday morning he remained in jail on Sunday.

Mahaffey was booked into jail on Friday afternoon on a misdemeanor count of provoking assault and released. Samuel Floyd Harry, 21, was booked Thursday into the jail on a misdemeanor count of striking Mahaffey’s 17-year-old passenger. Harry was also released.

All will be scheduled for arraignments in Reno Municipal Court to enter pleas. Those court dates were not immediately available.

A group demonstrating to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day walked up Virginia Street on Columbus Day and spread out across Virginia Street under the Reno Arch. Mahaffey, who was captured on video yelling at the protestors as they walked up street, drove up to the group and there was a confrontation.

Mahaffey told police he feared for his safety and that’s why he drove through the group. An elderly woman with the protestors was injured and hospitalized.

4:20 p.m. Saturday update:
Two of the three people charged in an incident involving a Columbus Day protest under the Reno Arch have been arrested.

Protestor Samuel Floyd Harry, 21, was booked shortly after Reno Police chief Jason Soto finished his press conference Thursday announcing that three people had been charged in the incident, according to Washoe County jail records.

The driver of a truck that drove through protestors under the Reno arch, injuring the hip of an elderly woman, was booked into the Washoe County jail on Friday afternoon on a misdemeanor count of provoking assault and released, jail records show.

Nicholas Mario Mahaffey, 18, was not charged with anything related to driving through the Columbus Day protestors because both he and his 17-year-old passenger were threatened and punched after they stopped their vehicle in front of the protestors, who were blocking Virginia Street under the Reno Arch, Soto said in a Thursday press conference.

Mahaffey called Reno police about a minute after the incident and told police he feared for his safety, Soto said. The police chief described Mahaffey as cooperative.

The group was protesting to have Columbus Day renamed to Indigenous People’s Day and were also protesting a proposed North Dakota oil pipeline.

Videos posted on social media showed Mahaffey driving past the group as it marched up North Virginia Street and yelling at them before driving south on Virginia Street to meet the protestors as they blocked the street under the arch.

Some voices on the video urge protestors to stand their ground as Mahaffey raced the engine on the truck and others told him to go around.

Harry and James Fletcher, 24, were charged with misdemeanor battery. Soto said numerous videos of the incident show them threatening and attacking Mahaffey and his passenger. Jail records do not indicate that Fletcher has been booked yet.

Harry and Mahaffey will arraignments in Reno Municipal Court where they will enter pleas, but court records were not available on Saturday.
Soto said Thursday there’s no evidence anyone acted based on race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.

7:15 p.m. Thursday update:
The Reno Police Department has identified three people charged in the incident Monday when a truck driver drove through protestors under the Reno Arch.

Nicholas Mahaffey, 18, the driver of the truck, has been charged with a misdemeanor count of provoking an assault.

Two protestors have also been charged with simple battery: Samuel Harry, 21, and James Fletcher, 24.

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said at a press conference that the video shows Harry and Fletcher attacking people inside the truck after it stopped in front of the group spread across North Virginia Street under the Reno Arch. Fletcher allegedly punched Mahaffey in the face while Harry allegedly punched the 17-year-old passenger.

The videos also captured people making threats toward the driver and passenger, Soto said.

Nothing in the videos captures comments based on race or ethnicity, Soto said.

A minute after the incident Mahaffey called Reno police and said he tried to lurch forward to clear protestors so he could flee but was attacked and feared for his safety, so he drove through the crowd, Soto said. The police chief described Mahaffey as cooperative.

7:15 p.m. update:
Reno police cheif Jason Soto said arrest warrants have been issued for the driver who drove through protestors on Monday night under the Reno arch.

Two protestors who allegedly struck the driver and the passenger were also charged, Soto said.

All are charged with misdemeanors.



 
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