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25-year-old woman charged for hitting Niagara Square protester with truck

"An investigation had to be mounted"
Posted at 9:08 AM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 20:57:37-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo police have charged 25-year-old Joanna Gollnau of Buffalo with felony reckless endangerment and reckless driving for hitting a Niagara Square protester with a truck, Wednesday night.

Slow Roll Buffalo says 59-year-old Karen Huffman, who is a member of their board, was the person hit by the driver during those protests in downtown Buffalo. She is now home and in good spirits according to a spokesperson for Slow Roll Buffalo.

Protesters were rallying against racial injustice and eyewitnesses tell us the driver of the truck was shouting at protesters as she drove into the crowd.

7 Eyewitness News was at the scene at the time. A video of the incident can be found below, WARNING it is graphic.

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo tells 7 Eyewitness News investigators first reviewed a number of video evidence.

"Our investigators spent the majority of the day going out and looking at video footage
that was obtained from multiple sources in this case, everything from social media to city surveillance cameras, our safe cam program as well as surrounding buildings," Rinaldo explained.

Rinaldo said after reviewing the video footage and consulting with the Erie County District Attorney's office, charges were placed against Gollnau.

But there's backlash against police on a Facebook post saying Gollnau should have been arrested Wednesday night.

Rinaldo says she has been cooperating with police since the night of the incident.

"Captain Rinaldo, why wasn't she arrested that night?" asked Eileen Buckley. "You want to make sure that the charges you are placing are accurate and our charges that can be sustained in a court of law," replied Rinaldo.

Rinaldo said he cannot conclude what the driver's motive may have been after reviewing all the video.

"As the investigation continues — as the court case proceeds, if there’s more evidence that warrants an additional charge those charges will be placed," responded Rinaldo.

A source tells 7 Eyewitness News the driver thought she quote "had a clear lane of traffic" when Huffman was struck. The driver pulled over, but the source says she was chased and pepper sprayed by protesters who broke her windows.

The district attorney's office says it cannot comment on the case until Gollnau is arraigned — that's set for November 3rd.