Kathleen Casillo appeared in New York court Wednesday and refused a plea deal that included six days of community service and a one-year suspension of her license. The Queens woman is accused of running her car into a Black Lives Matter protest last year, though she claimed she acted in self-defense.

The 52-year-old Queens woman appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court and claimed that when she drove her BMW sedan into the crowd, she felt threatened by the protesters who were yelling and banging on her car. She told the court that she would prefer to take her trial to a jury.

Kathleen Casillo was arrested last December after she hit protesters with her BMW sedan. The woman just refused a plea deal and wants to face a jury (Credit: Twitter)
Kathleen Casillo was arrested last December after she hit protesters with her BMW sedan. The woman just refused a plea deal and wants to face a jury (Credit: Twitter)

The Queens woman claimed that she hit the gas when protesters started banging on her car. Casillo insisted that the protesters attempted to open her doors and called her a “white privilege b**tch.”

Outside the courthouse, over 100 protesters gathered and carried photos of the Dec. 11, 2020, attack. They also had a television where they played video footage from last year’s Black Lives Matter protest. Many of the protesters outside the courthouse were injured in the 2020 attack and used their platform to share their stories and outrage about that day.

“Kathleen Casillo drove her car at top speed through a crowd of human beings. I was one of those human beings — I never saw her coming,” said Roque Rodriguez. “She hit me flush from behind and set my body flying and flipping through the air and she kept driving. It’s white supremacy that allowed Kathleen to believe she had the right to end the lives of anyone that got in her way, especially BLM protesters.”

Other protesters shouted “Black Lives Matter” and carried signs that said, “Kathleen Casillo is [the new] Kyle Rittenhouse.” The protesters were referencing the Illinois teen who opened fire, killing two and wounding another during a BLM protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. Kyle Rittenhouse also claimed self-defense in his case and was recently acquitted of all charges.

The courthouse protesters also called out Assistant District Attorney Andrew Mercer for his role in the Kathleen Casillo case. They claimed that Mercer didn’t follow up with seven of the nine protesters that were injured in the attack. It was also suggested that Mercer gave Casillo a weak charge for the damage that she caused.

After her arrest, the 52-year-old woman was given a desk ticket and released after only a couple of hours in jail. She was later charged with third-degree reckless assault.

“Andrew Mercer neglected to follow up with seven of the nine people who were directly hit and impacted by this crime,” Rodriguez said. You’ve never spoken to them. He did no due diligence, and instead assumed that Kathleen did not have bad intentions and that no one else was seriously harmed.”

A spokesperson for the Assistant District Attorney’s Office said they did reach out to every victim who was injured during the protest attack.

Protesters hold up signs as they wait outside the courthouse during the case of Kathleen Casillo. The Queens woman is accused of hit a Black Lives Matter protest with her car. (Credit: Twitter)
Protesters hold up signs as they wait outside the courthouse during the case of Kathleen Casillo. The Queens woman is accused of hitting a Black Lives Matter protest with her car. (Credit: Twitter)

Many of the protesters were in tears as they recalled the horrific incident. Some claimed that they can still hear the screams of protesters being run over by Casillo’s car. The incident injured nine people and many of them are still living with those injuries. Tabitha Howell suffered from a traumatic brain injury and five bulging discs in her spine during the alleged attack.

The alleged attack occurred last year in Midtown Manhattan on 39th Street and Third Avenue. The Black Lives Matter protest was in response to the ICE detentions. Video taken from the tragic event showed Kathleen Casillo’s BMW Sedan stopping at the intersection as protesters walked through the streets.

A couple of seconds later, Casillo’s car ran into the crowd, hitting many protesters. In the video, people can be seen flying into the air and hitting the BMW’s windshield. “A car just ran through a group of protesters, tossing people into the air,” said witness Mark Apolloa at the time. “I saw individuals that were hit with the car flying up and over it. The windshield is totally cracked.”

Kathleen Casillo was picked up a block away from the scene and taken into custody. Her 29-year-old daughter was in the car with her at the time of the attack, but she was not charged.

Though the Queens woman is set to face trial, many protesters are still angry at how the situation was treated. After the attack, Walter “Hawk” Newsom, chairman for the Black Lives Matter Greater New York chapter, spoke to reporters. “The outrage we feel lies not just in the fact that the woman drove her car into a group of people and actually accelerated, but that police later allowed her to stand there for an extended period of time without even handcuffing her,” Newsom said.

The Black Lives Matter chapter continues to seek justice. Protesters outside the courthouse on Wednesday said that they will be present at every one of Kathleen Casillo’s court dates. The protestors explained that the early morning, the bitter cold, or even a snowstorm won’t stand in their way.