Authorities struggled to keep control of protests that soon turned into riots across the country over the weekend after a 46-year-old black man died at the hands of a now-former Minneapolis police officer. And even two states away from the incident that sparked it all, St. Louis wasn’t immune to the violence.
Local CBS affiliate KMOV has confirmed that a man died early Saturday in St. Louis after becoming entangled under the wheels of a FedEx truck and dragged down the road as the driver, who police reportedly said was “fearing for his safety,” tried to escape a crowd of allegedly unruly demonstrators.
Protests in St. Louis
According to KMOV, protests that began in the eastern Missouri city Friday night extended into the early hours of Saturday morning, and involved a large group of protesters blocking and shutting down I-70, which forced traffic — including the FedEx tractor-trailer — to exit the freeway. NBC News reported that police said the FedEx driver was soon “stopped due to a large gathering of protesters.”
When the truck stopped, according to KMOV, “a crowd of protesters surrounded the front of the truck and began banging and climbing onto the passenger side.” Others were “seen running off with packages from the truck,” the CBS affiliate added.
Police spokesman Sgt. Keith Barrett said in a statement that the FedEx driver was also threatened at gunpoint. “The driver, fearing for his safety, sounded the airhorn and drove off until he was stopped by police,” Barrett said, according to NBC News.
Barrett said the driver didn’t know, however, that there was a man standing in between the dual trailers when he began to drive forward. According to NBC, that man, who has not been identified by authorities, was caught under a wheel of the trailer and dragged before he “was eventually run over by the tire.”
The man was taken to a local hospital, where he later died, according to KMOV.
A tragic situation
KMOV reported that the horrifying incident was caught on cell phone video by a protester named Jared Arms, who said fellow demonstrators were trying to get the FedEx driver to stop his truck after onlookers realized a man was trapped underneath.
Countering police accounts, Arms told KMOV that his video shows “the people at the doors are only going up because they were trying to tell him somebody was stuck not to open it and try to beat him up and things like that.” Sadly, it seems their message didn’t across amid the chaos.
According to KMOV, FedEx released a statement following the incident saying that the company is “deeply saddened” about the “tragic situation.”
“Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this week,” the company said, according to KMOV. “We are deeply saddened to learn of a tragic situation involving a demonstrator in St. Louis and one of our vehicles. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family of the individual involved. There is no higher priority for FedEx than safety, and we are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities at this time.”
Reports didn’t name the FedEx driver, and it remains unclear if charges will be filed.