More than 10 months later, a resolution is near in the case of the motorist who slowly drove through a busy Minneapolis intersection packed with protesters, slightly injuring a demonstrator and prompting others in the crowd to ambush the vehicle.
Jeffrey P. Rice, 41, of St. Paul, is scheduled to appear in Hennepin County District Court for a plea hearing Friday afternoon in connection with the three misdemeanor charges filed against him by the city attorney’s office: reckless or careless driving, careless driving and failure to avoid colliding with a pedestrian.
“We believe we have reached a resolution … and the case will be resolved on Friday,” city spokesman Casper Hill said. “We anticipate that he will accept a plea.”
Hill declined to elaborate further, and Rice’s attorney, Kevin Sieben, said on Wednesday, “At this point, we will not be making any statements to the media.”
Rice was charged in March after the county attorney’s office decided not to charge him with a felony after he drove through the protesters late in the afternoon on Nov. 25 at E. Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue. He knocked over one of the participants.
Rice admitted to police that he saw the people in the street before he “drove through them,” the criminal complaint read.
At the time of the charges, Sieben said: “We’re disappointed in the charges, and he’s looking forward to his day in court.”
Several hundred protesters were blocking the intersection as part of a national wave of demonstrations over a grand jury decision a day earlier not to charge a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Mo.
Rice ran into and slightly injured a 16-year-old girl as others were perched on the hood of his Subaru station wagon. After driving slowly through the crowd, Rice pulled over, called 911 and was questioned by officers moments later.
His mother said in an interview that evening that her son was coming home from work and “didn’t even know what was going on” when he encountered the crowd.
Police said in their initial incident report that his vehicle was being damaged as he “was attempting to flee from the mob.”
The report initially listed Rice as a “victim” and the injured girl under a category marked “other.” Later in the day, police changed the listing of Rice to “suspect.”