Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer (center) holds a press conference at the Shelby County office building addressing the demands for charges against the drivers that attempted to hit protestors during a Friday protest in Midtown Memphis. Photo by Brandon Dill.

A driver was charged with felony reckless endangerment today, and is the second of two men accused of intentionally driving their vehicles into protesters on June 5.

Beau Albauer, 26, of Memphis, was booked this morning on three counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, according to police documents. A search warrant executed on Monday led to the increased charges.

Albauer was initially cited for disregarding a red light after, according to witnesses, he tried to run down demonstrators marching in the Cooper-Young community.

Beau Albauer
Anthony Marcuzzo

Memphis police also charged another driver, who struck at least four demonstrators during the march that was sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin on May 25. Anthony Marcuzzo, 18, of Memphis, was charged with four misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving.

Police initially gave Marcuzzo a citation for driving without a license and improper passing and did not detain him.

The charges against Albauer follow a press conference on Monday, where two of Marcuzzo’s alleged victims shared their stories and criticized the Memphis Police Department for how officers handled the incidents.

Erin Dempsey and Shiloh Barnat Goodman appeared alongside a small group of supporters, including Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and protest organizers Jordan Dodson and Allyson Smith.

In 2017, “the same thing happened in Charlottesville, and the nation said they were changing and going to mourn,” Sawyer said. “Here we are not arresting the people right here in Memphis.”

Jordan Dodson, the organizer of the Friday protest through Midtown Memphis, speaks at the press conference in the Shelby County office building on Monday afternoon. Photo by Brandon Dill.

According to police reports, safety marshals, who were acting as “traffic control” for the protesters, were standing on Young Avenue near Meda Street. Marcuzzo attempted to drive past demonstrators, striking at least four people, including Dempsey, Goodman and Goodman’s teenage daughter.

“The first thing I need people to understand is that this was a deliberate act of violence,” Dempsey said, as she recalled how Marcuzzo “deliberately sped into us with ample opportunity to stop.”

Goodman marked the incident unforgettable. Marcuzzo had a grin on his face, “laughed and put on the gas,” she recalled. Dempsey was sent to the hospital after the incident, while Goodman sought treatment the next day. The two ended up with bruises and back pain.

The police report also notes that witnesses said an “upset” Albauer initially tried to hit three protesters. As marchers arrived at Central Avenue and Cooper Street, they came across Albauer again, who drove toward them, according to the report. Protesters and safety marshals dispersed to avoid Albauer’s SUV, but he “kept accelerating” toward them. No one was hit.

Attempts to reach Marcuzzo were unsuccessful. Albauer was still being held at the Shelby County Jail this afternoon, according to information found on the jail website.

At the press conference, Dempsey and Goodman, both of whom are white women, questioned whether race influenced the way police handled the situations.

“If the driver (Marcuzzo) had been a black man, he would be pulled out of the car,” Dempsey said. “If I was a black woman, I would have gotten even less justice. …”

As the conference came to a close, Dempsey indicated she felt some relief after telling her story. Goodman, on the other hand, was still anxious. The incident has put a spotlight on her and her daughter, who also attended the press conference.

“As a mom, that was a really hard decision,” Goodman said. “We had some very serious talks about the implications because we’re concerned that the visibility draws hateful people, who will try to scare and intimidate us. Some of that is already happening.”

That backlash, Dempsey explained, has moved onto social media. “There’s people saying online all over the place that we deserved to get hit,” she said. “We didn’t get out of the way and we were in the street. I don’t think I was reluctant to come up here, but everything that’s happened since we got hit has had a really large emotional toll.”

“Having to talk to lawyers and having to be at the hospital for a couple hours,” Dempsey said, briefly pausing. “We have to gather in mass numbers to fight for basic human rights in the middle of the pandemic. It’s not surprising but disappointing.”

F. Amanda Tugade is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by the Surdna Foundation, the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the American Journalism Project, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, and Community Change.

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