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A judge in North Carolina has been summoned to appear before criminal court after allegedly nearly striking Black Lives Matter protesters with his state-issued vehicle earlier this month – but video released by Fayetteville police of the incident is inconclusive, as it’s unclear how close his SUV came to the demonstrators.
North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge John M. Tyson, 67, is charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. He has been summoned to appear in court in Cumberland County next month.
One of the protesters, 23-year-old Myah Warren, swore before a Cumberland County magistrate on Friday that Tyson was the man she saw driving the SUV that she claims nearly hit her and other protesters outside the Market House in Fayetteville on May 7, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
“He’s a well-known racist,” she said, according to The Washington Post. Warren was reportedly referring to Warren’s dissent after the state court of appeals upheld a murder conviction for a White man who shot a Black partygoer after reporting “hoodlums” in the neighborhood in 2016.
More than 12 minutes of CTV footage – taken from different cameras and clipped together to show the incident from various angles around Market House – was released by the Fayetteville Police Department on Friday to fulfill two public records requests.
It was then posted on Facebook by the Cape Fear Indivisible.
The inner lane of the road – painted with a mural that reads “Black Lives Do Matter. End Racism Now” – was closed for traffic, a police spokesperson said. The outer lane was open for traffic.
Video showed the SUV allegedly driven by Tyson cruising through downtown Fayetteville.
It drives through the inner lane with the BLM message nearly 10 minutes later, where protesters are seen both on the curb and standing slightly in the lane. The vehicle then stops abruptly before moving into the outer lane, which was open to traffic.
But Warren has alleged that the same state-issued SUV circled back more than once.
Bishop McNeill, a member of the Fayetteville Activist Movement, the group that organized the protest on May 7, told the Observer that he saw the SUV rapidly coming around Market House toward protesters and yelled, “Watch out,” as the vehicle headed straight for three of them. He said he felt the video had been “pieced together” to omit some of the incident.
The attorney representing Tyson, David T. Courie Sr., told the Observer that he’s reviewed the surveillance footage, which will serve as the first defense exhibit in court. He stressed that the allegations against his client come from an individual, not a law enforcement agency.
Separately, a 911 dispatcher received a call on May 7 about “reckless activity” as a protest was happening and demonstrators were in the roadway, according to police documents obtained by the Observer. The newspaper did not say whether Tyson was the caller – but Tyson, in declining to comment further about the incident, said that 911 calls that day will paint a more complete picture.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Warren, a Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission member, accused Tyson of lying to 911 dispatch by saying protesters were by his vehicle.
“It’s a baldfaced lie,” Warren said. “He needs to be dealt with for making false accusations to 911.”
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