A New York City mother-of-three who plowed her BMW into a group of BLM protesters in 2020 has yet again refused a plea deal in favor of a jury trial.
Kathleen Casillo, 54, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday nearly two years after she was accused of driving into pedestrians during the protest at the Manhattan intersection of 39th Street and Third Avenue on December 11, 2020.
Casillo could face seven years in prison after turning down the deal which involved six hours of community service and a one-year license suspension.
Casillo and her attorney told the court that they did not have an interest in the plea deal and would opt for a jury trial. They turned down the same plea deal a year ago.
The Howard Beach, Queens, mom has previously claimed the demonstrators had come up to her car and called her ‘a white privilege b**ch’ before banging on the vehicle.
She said she then panicked and hit the gas when they tried to open the doors of her vehicle, which led to nine activists being injured.
Kathleen Casillo, 54, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday nearly two years after she was accused of driving into the pedestrians during the protest in NYC in December 2020
Casillo could face seven years in prison after turning down the deal which involved six hours of community service and one year license suspension, in favor for a jury trial
Casillo was issued no more than a desk appearance ticket for the incident and was released only hours after her arrest. She is pictured at her hearing in November 2022
In an exclusive interview with the Dailymail.com last year, the mother said she feared for her daughter’s life as a group of protesters started attacking her car and decided to hit the gas, eventually plowing into a group of activists in 2020.
Casillo was issued no more than a desk appearance ticket for the incident and was released only hours after her arrest. Her 29-year-old daughter was also in the car at the time, but was not charged. Casillo was later charged with reckless assault.
‘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,’ Casillo, whose husband works as a car mechanic, told DailyMail.com last year.
Casillo said she turned down the plea deal in December because she did not do anything wrong, saying: ‘I’m going to court to clear my name because I’m not guilty.’
‘I feel sick,’ she continued, noting: ‘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.
‘They’re just making the black community look like they’re thugs. One of my closest friends is a woman of color, from when I was 19 years old, so it’s not a black, white thing. I don’t know even know the color of the people that I hit. It was all mixed.’
Casillo’s BMW had plowed through a crowd of about 50 people which had left multiple injured
Video posted to social media in the aftermath showed the moment she plowed through a group of 50 Black Lives Matter protesters that night.
Damage to the 2019 black BMW sedan is clearly visible in photos from the incident.
Multiple injured protestors were taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for their injuries.
Since then, cops have been forced to guard Casillo’s home over death threats sent to her and her family, her daughter Dominique said.
When Casillo appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court last year, she had to be escorted into the building by security officers, as a group of protesters outside compared her to a female Kyle Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse claimed self-defense when he shot three people, two fatally, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.
He was later acquitted of all charges in a criminal trial that divided the nation over questions about gun rights, violence at racial justice protests and vigilantism.
Kathleen Casillo, center, was refused the same plea deal in December 2021. She is pictured walking into Manhattan Criminal Court by security officers last year
Protesters outside the courthouse in December compared Casillo to Kyle Rittenhouse who claimed self-defense when he shot three people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin
Describing being attacked in 2020, Dominique told DailyMail.com on Thursday: ‘You know when you picture a protest, you picture a bunch of [people] protesting for something. That’s not what we saw.’
She said what she experienced that day was a ‘traumatizing situation,’ saying she and her mom were driving down ‘an empty street’ when ‘a few people came out of nowhere.
‘It didn’t look like a protest,’ Dominique recounted. ‘It was more like being attacked by random people who were being menaces.’
She alleged that the people who were attacking the car ‘weren’t really part of the protest,’ as the actual protest ‘was a block up.
‘They were just lingering and pulled out of nowhere before we stopped the car,’ Dominique said. ‘We waited, watched the light turn green [then] red.
‘We waited a long time, and they were just there there like this, doing nothing.
‘Then they walked away just a little bit so we could move,’ she alleges. ‘We started driving and they started attacking the car. So naturally we stopped again, and that’s when they started hitting [the] car, cursing us out. I was really scared honestly.
‘Finally there was a bit that actually cracked the window open on my side and that’s when my mother started to roll,’ Dominique said. ‘We said we have to get out of here because they’re not going to stop.
‘There was no other car around,’ she continued. ‘There might have been cars behind us, but we were the first car on an empty sidewalk, so was it just like “wrong place, wrong time?” I don’t know.’
She noted that it was ‘sad because I definitely think there’s some bad menaces that go and ruin protest because there were people there protesting for a cause and they were just there looking for a trouble.’
Casillo, 53, right, has said she panicked when a group of protesters started banging on her car. She is pictured here with her daughter, Dominique, 29, who was in the vehicle at the time
In the aftermath, Dominique said, her mother was slammed as a racist on Twitter, calling it ‘really traumatizing.’
People took to social media to post screenshots of her Facebook and Instagram accounts, The City reported at the time, showing posts supportive of then-President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID pandemic and likes for a group called ‘I stand with Rudy Giuliani.’
But Casillo has denied claims of racism, telling DailyMail.com in December: ‘One of my closest friends is a woman of color, from when I was 19-years-old, so it’s not a black, white thing.
‘I don’t even know the color the people that I hit,’ she continued. ‘It was all mixed.’
Her attorneys have rejected claims that Casillo is racist and intentionally hit the protesters, calling it a ‘false narrative’ that is ‘without merit and deeply disturbing,’ and hope she will get a fair trial.
They also noted that Casillo did not have a prior criminal history and has ‘no history of having hurt anybody,’ claiming ‘her heart goes out to the victims.’
Casillo was arrested after plowing her car through the ICE demonstration in December 2020
Casillo claimed demonstrators had come up to her car and called her ‘a white privilege b**ch’ before banging on the vehicle. Damage to the car is clearly visible in this snap