What did Kathleen Casillo do? Woman who drove through 2020 BLM protest refuses plea deal

The Black Lives Matter movement (Image via David Ryder/ Getty Images)
The Black Lives Matter movement (Image via David Ryder/ Getty Images)

On Tuesday, November 30, 2022, Kathleen Casillo refused to take a plea deal for the second time. The 54-year-old mother had appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court, where she opted for a trial.

Back in 2020, Kathleen Casillo allegedly slammed into a group of pedestrians with her BMW car in the middle of a protest in New York City.

According to her, the protesters used phrases like "a white privileged b***h" for her, which made her panic, resulting in the injury of several protestors.

Casillo appear at Manhattan Criminal Court (Image via Twitter/ @PA HAU)
Casillo appear at Manhattan Criminal Court (Image via Twitter/ @PA HAU)

"We were attacked by people": Kathleen Casillo rejects plea deal once again

A BLM protest was being held on December 11, 2020, at the Manhattan intersection of 39th Street and Third Avenue at about 4 pm EST. At this point, Casillo allegedly drove the BMW into a group of protesters, injuring nine protesters. She was then arrested on December 11, 2020. Following this, she was released soon after with the issuance of a desk appearance ticket.

A year ago, in 2021, she was asked to accept a plea deal on charges of reckless assault and endangerment. The plea deal required her to have her driver’s license put off and complete six days of community service. However, Casillo reportedly refused it back then.

Recently, she has again refused to take the plea during the trial proceedings held at Manhattan Criminal Court. As a result, the 54-year-old Italian-American might now face prison time of up to seven years if she is convicted in the trial.

Recalling the incident, Casillo mentioned that she panicked when the protesters tried to open the door of their car where she and her 29-year-old daughter were sitting. In 2021, she told the Daily Mail:

“My side of the story was we were attacked by people who were going to break my daughter's window and pull her out of the car, so I feared [for] my life.”

She further added:

“I'm going to court to clear my name because I'm not guilty… I never intended on hurting anyone. I just feared for my daughter's life more than anybody. I thought they were going to pull her out of the car.”

Protesters demand increased charges on Kathleen Casillo

With Casillo refusing to take the plea, several internet users have come forward to express their opinion on the matter. Meanwhile, some of the protestors have been vocal regarding the increased charges on the 54-year-old.

Roque Rodriguez, one of the protesters, told AMNY:

"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."

He added:

"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."

Another protester, Tabitha Howell, mentioned how she sustained traumatic brain injuries as a result of the crash.

On the other hand, Casillo’s defense attorney, Oliver Storch, said:

“We are in the process of providing the DA’s office with a video showing agitators harassing patrons of businesses along the protest before descending on Mrs. Casillo and her daughter by physically putting their hands on the hood of her car, jumping on the hood and attempting to smash the car window and attempting to open said car.”

Speaking about the protests, he also added:

“This unfortunate incident occurred during the chaos of COVID ravaged 2020 Manhattan... in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd. Individuals should always be able to protest zealously and loudly but without creating a dangerous situation as happened here.”

Storch further continued:

“Law and order must return to Manhattan with protestors coexisting with residents not being afraid to be confronted by angry mobs, creating dangerous situations.”

Netizens have expressed mixed reactions to Casillo's case. While some condemned her action, others believed she acted to protect herself and her daughter.

Some activists have even voiced their opinions against Kathleen Casillo and have asked for increased charges against Kathleen Casillo. In fact, she was being compared to Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot several people while they were protesting against police brutality by a Caucasian cop in 2020.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar
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