ST. LOUIS • A man who drove his car into a group of protesters in St. Louis on Wednesday night has been charged with a felony.
Mark Colao, 59, was charged Thursday with a felony count of resisting arrest by fleeing and two misdemeanor charges of leaving the scene of an accident and operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.
Police say Colao, of the 2900 block of St. Vincent Avenue, drove his car through protesters who were blocking Manchester Avenue and Sarah Street in the Grove neighborhood Wednesday night.
After Colao pushed his car through the protesters, he gave the middle finger to a police officer who pulled alongside his car, and “accelerated aggressively” as he left the scene, according to charging documents.
He initially refused to stop for officers, police say. They caught up to him after he “violently applied his brakes” to avoid striking traffic several blocks away, at Chouteau Avenue and Grand Boulevard, where he was arrested, according to police.
Police released a surveillance video Thursday that officers say shows an aerial view of protesters surrounding and striking the vehicle. The car then slowly moves through the crowd before accelerating around the corner, according to court documents. Court documents name one woman who said she tried to get the protesters to move out of the car’s way, then saw it come toward the group and felt it bump her in the leg.
Three people had minor injuries.
The protesters were marching in the street Wednesday after a nearby vigil to honor Kenny “Kiwi” Herring, who was fatally shot by St. Louis police officers a day earlier after police say Herring stabbed a man and attacked an officer with a knife.
After the encounter between the protesters and the car, protesters hit the car and chased it as the man drove off.
Before Colao was charged, his name circulated on social media, along with a photo protesters found that appears to show Colao posing with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Krewson denied knowing him in a post on social media Thursday. City staff said they believe the photograph was taken at a campaign event where the mayor posed with many people she did not know personally.
I don't know person in the photo- I take pics w/ a lot of people- Police are applying for felony charges- that's the right call!— Mayor Lyda Krewson (@LydaKrewson) August 24, 2017
She condemned his actions in a tweet. “Driving into people is totally wrong,” Krewson posted. “People have a right to protest, he should have used common sense and turned around.”
Driving into people is totally wrong. People have a right to protest, he should have used common sense and turned around.— Mayor Lyda Krewson (@LydaKrewson) August 24, 2017