CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — DeAndre Shakur Harris, a Suffolk-area man accused of assaulting a person following the Unite the Right rally has been found not guilty.
Charlottesville General District Court Judge Robert Downer gave his ruling around 12: 40 p.m. Friday, March 16. Harris was facing one misdemeanor count of assault.
The commonwealth had argued Harris struck Harold Ray Crews on the back of the head with a flashlight on August 12, 2017. Four men — Jacob Scott Goodwin, Tyler Watkins Davis, Daniel Patrick Borden, and Alex Michael Ramos — are accused of then attacking Harris inside the Market Street Parking Garage.
Defense attorney Rhonda Quaglianna argued Harris did not hit Crews, but rather the defendant was trying to strike a flag pole Crews was holding. The attorney said Harris thought Crews was using the pole as a weapon.
Harris took the witness stand, telling the court that he was attempting to break up an altercation between Crews and Corey Long. He said he was trying to break Crew’s flagpole with his flashlight.
The court also heard testimony from Crews, who recounted the events has he perceived.
Judge Downer made his ruling based on the fact that the commonwealth could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Harris intended to hit Crews.
Charlottesville police had added extra security measures ahead of Friday’s trial. More than 100 people gathered to offer Harris support both inside and outside the courtroom. Members of activist groups like Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Black Lives Matter have repeatedly demanded charges be dropped against Harris, Long, and other protesters.
Quaglianna spoke to the media following Judge Downer’s ruling, saying, “DeAndre is a bright young man with a good future ahead.”
Supporters for Harris then marched and chanted along the Downtown Mall.
Harris still faces charges in Southampton for speeding, transporting a loaded rifle, and possession of a concealed weapon.