Misdemeanor charges have been filed against the woman who struck a protester with her vehicle on May 28, the Denver District Attorney’s Office announced Monday afternoon.
Jennifer Watson, 37, is facing one count of assault in the third degree “for knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a protester,” a misdemeanor that could result in two years in jail. Watson also faces one count of reckless driving, a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.
The decision comes more than a month after the Denver Police Department handed the case to District Attorney Beth McCann on June 15, although DPD did not disclose that development until July 7.
"It can take a while for the detectives to conduct interviews, retrieve necessary documents and videos and complete reports," DA spokesperson Carolyn Tyler told Colorado Politics in an email. "It then takes us some time to review all of the material and consult with the detectives and determine if criminal charges can be brought."
Tyler said McCann also "first communicated her conclusions with Max Bailey, the protester who was hit, before communicating her findings more broadly."
Before she had been named by authorities, Watson was identified in numerous places online. A quick Google search of “Jennifer Watson Denver” yields a link to a petition with more than 38,700 signatures that calls for Watson’s arrest.
A private Facebook group, called “We support Jenn Watson,” included a few members who claimed to be close to Watson, including the group’s administrator, who asked Colorado Politics to stay anonymous. She told the group on June 11 that Watson was “unharmed ... doing as well as she can ... and knows about this group and thanks everyone for the support.”
Colorado Politics has not been able to reach Watson.
The incident occurred on the first day civil unrest erupted in Denver over the death of George Floyd, the man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
A viral video of the incident showed that protesters were blocking traffic on Colfax Avenue and Broadway, when Bailey jumped onto the hood of Watson’s vehicle, which he said he did to avoid being run over. When Bailey jumped off her car, the video shows Watson swerving her black SUV back toward him, bumping him, and fleeing the scene.
Watson owns an interior design company, according to Colorado Secretary of State business records.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a comment erroneously provided by the Denver District Attorney's Office.