Orange County rally organizer accused of running over Trump supporters faces new charges
The organizer of a rally against police brutality who was charged with attempted murder last year after she allegedly plowed her car into counter-protesters, seriously injuring two people, now faces additional felony charges after a months-long review of the case, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors plan to file two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon against Tatiana Rita Turner, 40, of Long Beach during a court hearing next month, the Orange County district attorney’s office said in a news release.
The additional charges stem from allegations that she used a four-foot rod to repeatedly beat two men who were lying on the ground after they had been attacked by protesters at a Seal Beach demonstration against police brutality in August. The attack in Seal Beach left one of the victims with injuries to his head so severe they required staples, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also allege Turner zapped someone with a stun gun at the same September rally in Yorba Linda where she is accused of running over two supporters of then-President Trump, who were staging a counter-protest to her “March 4 Equality” event.
The counter-demonstrators, wrapped in U.S. flag garb and Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” merchandise, and Turner’s group engaged in dueling chants of “U.S.A.” and “Black Lives Matter” before the clash turned violent.
Footage from the scene shows a car, which prosecutors allege was driven by Turner, barrel into a crowd of Trump supporters that had surrounded her vehicle. Several activists and Turner’s former defense attorney claim that the counter-protesters were attacking her and that she acted in self-defense.
But prosecutors charged Turner with attempted murder, alleging she drove over a counter-protester’s head. The victim, identified Wednesday as 44-year-old Danielle Lindgren, was hospitalized for several months for injuries she suffered during the incident, prosecutors said.
Lindgren, of Corona, was also charged Wednesday with a misdemeanor count of possessing a baton during the protest. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Turner was previously charged with six felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one felony count of mayhem and two felony counts for using pepper spray. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years to life plus 26 years in state prison. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
Turner’s public defender could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Defense attorney Ludlow Creary II, who was previously representing Turner, told the Associated Press last year that Turner tried unsuccessfully to get help from deputies during the Yorba Linda protest after her group was overwhelmed by a hostile crowd.
She saw people with guns and feared for her life when she got into her car, which was then blocked by Trump supporters. She didn’t intend to hit anyone, Creary II said at the time.
With Turner’s next court date approaching and the violence perpetrated by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol this month fresh in many minds, activist Traci Carr said Turner’s case has once again become the focus of some Los Angeles-area organizers. A banner reading “self defense is not a crime” in support of Turner hung from an overpass above the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. last week.
“It’s definitely a clear-cut case of self-defense. We’ve all seen how the Trump supporters are,” Carr said. “We saw what happened at the Capitol.”
Turner has previously been convicted of drug offenses and domestic violence, according to prosecutors. She was also charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a September protest in L.A. County, court records show. Additional details about that case were not immediately available.
But Carr accused the Orange County district attorney’s office of bringing up old crimes that had nothing to do with Turner’s recent actions. Turner, Carr said, had become an activist in recent years working with such groups as the Urban Organizers Coalition in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
Prosecutors also announced that criminal charges had been filed against four others who attended the Yorba Linda protest.
Cynthia Ruiz, 38, of Long Beach was charged with two felony counts of unlawful use of tear gas. Authorities allege she pepper-sprayed two counter-protesters, including one man who was attending the demonstration with his sister and 2-year-old nephew. If convicted as charged, Ruiz faces a maximum sentence of 3 years and 8 months in state prison.
Counter-protester Kristopher Wyrick, 42, of Alpine is facing one felony count of unlawful use of tear gas after he allegedly sprayed bear deterrent at several protesters when a fight broke out. The bear spray hit a protester who was not involved in the altercation, prosecutors said. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.
Justin Frazier, 26, of Santa Ana is facing a misdemeanor count of possessing a baton, and Jason Matthew Mancuso, 46, of Anaheim has been charged with one misdemeanor count of failing to disperse at the scene of a riot, prosecutors said.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement that his office is continuing to review surveillance footage from the protest to identify others who may have been involved.
“The Orange County district attorney’s office will prosecute anyone using force or unlawful intimidation tactics against any person or group,” Spitzer said in a statement. “Individuals who engage in violent and unlawful behavior in Orange County, regardless of their political or organizational leanings and associations, will not be tolerated and will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
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