A Queens woman who drove her car into Black Lives Matter protesters during a demonstration in the winter of 2020 in Midtown Manhattan will not face jail time after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.
Kathleen Casillo, 53, was facing up to seven years in prison for her actions, which left six people injured. Ms Casillo was driving a black BMW sedan when she rammed her car into protesters between 39th Street and Third Avenue. She said she panicked and hit the gas because protesters were being “aggressive.”
Prosecutors ultimatley took a sympathetic view of Ms Casillo’s actions. The plea deal they reached will only require Ms Casillo to perform five hours of community service and will see her plea to misdemeanor reckless endangerment get knocked down to disorderly conduct if she fulfills the terms of her plea.
The New York Post called the plea a “sweetheart” deal, and Ms Casillo was accosted by a group of people when she emerged from the courtroom on Tuesday. Ms Casillo’s attorney Oliver Storch, on the other hand, was pleased with the agreement.
“We’re very gratified after an exhaustive and thorough review the Manhattan DA’s office has decided that Kathleen Casillo should not receive a criminal conviction, which we have maintained from the beginning of the case,” Mr Storch said in comments reported by the Post. “Ms. Casillo is a retired grandmother who looks forward to putting this horrible ordeal behind her and spending time with her family,” Storch said. “Her thoughts and prayers go out to anybody injured.”
Ms Casillo was contrite.
“I’m sorry for everyone, I really am,” she said.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office said they did not pursue more severe plea terms with Ms Casillo because she had no criminal record, did not leave the scene of her crime, and, in their estimation, did not intend to hurt the protesters she hit with her vehicle.
The Manhattan DA’s office is led by Alvin Bragg, who last month secured the first ever indictment of a former US president in his case against Donald Trump.
Ms Casillo was one of several people who drove vehicles into crowds of racial justice demonstrators three years ago. In Minneapolis, the city where that year’s Black Lives Matter protests started following the murder of George Floyd, a man who drove his car into protesters on a highway had the charges against him dropped. A man who drove his car into protesters in Seattle also had his charges reduced.