Nicholas Kraus, Accused Of Fatally Plowing Into Uptown Protesters, To Stand Trial In March

6October 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A trial date has been set for Nicholas Kraus, the man charged with murder for allegedly plowing his SUV into a group of protesters in Minneapolis earlier this year, killing one woman and injuring three others.

According to Hennepin County court documents, Kraus, 35, will stand trial for the killing of Deona Knajdek beginning on March 21. He is facing one count of second-degree intentional murder in the June 13 death of the 31-year-old activist and mother of two. He also faces two charges of second-degree assault stemming from other injuries in the crash.

Nicholas Kraus (credit: Hennepin County Attorney’s Office)

Investigators say that Kraus sped into a group protesters demonstrating against the police shooting of Winston Smith Jr. at the intersection of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood. Kraus collided with Knajdek’s car, which was parked in the middle of the street. The impact pushed Knajdek’s vehicle into the group of protesters, fatally striking Knajdek.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters that Kraus admitted to accelerating as he drove toward the protesters’ barricade. He said that Kraus, who was driving without a license due to multiple DWI offences, thought he could launch his vehicle over them, “almost like a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ driving stunt.” Kraus’ actions didn’t appear to be politically motivated, Freeman said, rather the latest in a string of alcohol-related run-ins with the law.

Knajdek died while protesting the June 3 shooting of Smith. According to authorities, the Black man was wanted for a weapons violation and fired a gun from inside a vehicle when stopped by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force atop an Uptown parking ramp. Two deputies in the task force fired at Smith, killing him.

The lawyer for the woman who was in the car with Smith disputed the fact that he had a gun. She said she didn’t see a gun on Smith or in the vehicle. Following Knajdek’s death, protesters marched in Minneapolis in her honor and repeatedly blocked the intersection where she was struck.


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