N.C. judge accused of trying to hit activist with car during police brutality protest

·3 min read

An appeals court judge in North Carolina is accused of aiming an SUV at a protester at an anti-police brutality rally in Fayetteville this month.

Judge John Marsh Tyson, 67, has been summoned to appear in court and will be charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon in the incident May 7 in downtown Fayetteville, according to court records from the Cumberland County District Court Division.

Tyson's hearing is scheduled for June 21, according to the criminal summons signed by Magistrate C.L. McMillan.

McMillan found enough evidence to support the charge and addressed the finding directly with Tyson, according to court records.

"I, the undersigned, find that there is probable cause to believe that on or about the date of the offense, the defendant drove at a high rate of speed attempting to hit Myahtaeyarra Warren with a deadly weapon, a white SUV," McMillan wrote in the document.

Warren, who goes by Myah, was not hit or injured.

She said Tuesday that she went before a magistrate last week when the summons was issued for Tyson. North Carolina law allows residents to commence criminal charges by approaching a magistrate.

In her criminal complaint, Warren wrote that she recognized the driver who tried to hit her as the judge.

"I was at the market house protesting at 6:31 pm. A white SUV with a #4 plate attempted to hit me," Warren wrote in the complaint, later identifying the driver as Tyson. "I was standing inside the paint, which is not a traffic lane."

Warren, 23, of Fayetteville, said her roles as a business owner and a community activist put her in touch with many public figures and lawyers, which is how she was familiar with Tyson.

What Tyson did "was not OK," Warren said, adding that she would like to see him "be a man and own up."

Tyson did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

His attorney, David T. Courie Sr., did not return a call for comment. He has told The Fayetteville Observer that he is representing Tyson in "the misdemeanor summons brought by an individual, not law enforcement, 7 days after the alleged date of offense."

NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh reported that the SUV was state-issued. Warren told the station that Tyson nearly hit her after his second pass around the building, but that was not seen in the released video.

In video that has been made public, a light-colored SUV drives around a bend onto a street emblazoned with "Black Lives Do Matter." The SUV drives near a handful of protesters on a sidewalk. The Fayetteville Observer reported that a police spokesman said the road was not open to traffic.

Fayetteville police did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Reports of drivers' striking or nearly hitting protesters have increased throughout the country since demonstrators took to the streets nearly a year ago after George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Black Lives Matter protests often drew counterprotesters.

Tension on the street sometimes translated to drivers, too.

Last month, Oklahoma passed a law protecting drivers who unintentionally injure or kill people participating in riots. The bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last month signed a similar "anti-riot" bill that gives civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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