A 40-year-old Long Beach woman was charged Tuesday with attempted murder and multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly driving her car into a group of activists in Yorba Linda.
Tatiana Rita Turner was charged with attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement for attempted premeditated murder, making it a potential life-sentence case.
Turner is also charged with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a count of mayhem and two counts of illegal use of tear gas, all felonies. She faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted at trial.
Seven victims were listed in the criminal complaint.
Turner allegedly waved a baton at protesters before she is accused of driving through the crowd, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Turner pleaded not guilty Tuesday at her arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana. She was ordered to return to court Oct. 28 for a pretrial hearing in the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
A message left with Turner’s attorney, Cathy Iles, was not immediately returned.
The incident occurred during a gathering Saturday afternoon that drew Black Lives Matter protesters as well as supporters of President Donald Trump.
The BLM protest against police violence and systemic racism started at about 2 p.m. on Imperial Highway, but a larger group of Trump supporters also showed up.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies declared it an unlawful assembly by 2:40 p.m. and ordered everyone to disperse, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Breckner said.
Turner, who was believed to be affiliated with the “Caravan of Justice,” a car-based protest supporting BLM, was driving out of the Yorba Linda Public Library lot when she steered her Nissan Versa through an intersection, hitting a man and a woman, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun.
The man suffered two broken legs and the woman sustained major injuries, Breckner said. They were hospitalized, he said. Prosecutors alleged that she drove over the head of one woman.
Jason Mancuso, 46, of Anaheim, was also arrested and booked on suspicion of refusing to leave after the unlawful assembly was declared, Braun said. It is not known if charges have been filed in that case.
A total of 250 protesters converged at the scene, Breckner estimated, adding that everyone eventually left and roads were reopened.
A 47-year-old Yorba Linda man at the protest, who would only give his name as Mike because he said he feared Antifa-leaning elements might seek to harm him, told City News Service he’s been getting together with a group of several dozen other local residents every other week for patriotic rallies.
He claimed he personally saw three Trump supporters injured by the car that was hemmed in and trying to drive away. But he also said the “Make America Great Again” demonstrators had been harassing the woman, causing the panicked look on her face.
“They started to pound on her car,” he said, while clutching a carefully rolled up American flag. “It took damage.”
Mike told CNS he witnessed one female counter-protester get swept under the vehicle, as well as a male counter-protester who suffered an ankle injury. He said another male counter-protester suffered minor abrasions.