Deona Marie Knajdekn Minneapolis woman id as demonstrator killed by Nicholas David Kraus DUI SUV driver plowing into demonstrators. Social justice fighter remembered as police yet to say whether incident was deliberate.
A woman who was killed along with three others who were injured after a driver plowed into them during a protest in Minneapolis over the weekend has been identified as a 32 year old mother of two.
Deona Marie Knajdek, also identified as Deona Marie Erickson was initially taken to hospital in critical condition only to die of her injuries soon after police said.
The incident happened as protesters had gathered to demonstrate the fatal police shooting of a black man earlier this month in Minneapolis’ Uptown district on Sunday night.
It was while protesters congregated at the spot where Winston Boogie Smith, a 32 year old father of three was shot dead on June 3, Nicholas David Kraus, 35, driving a SUV allegedly at speeds of up to 100 mph plowed into the crowd just before midnight.
Upon the vehicle stopping, protesters pulled out the driver from his vehicle and began to beat the un-named man.
— ᒍOSᕼᑌᗩ ᒍEᖇEᗪ (@Joshuajered) June 14, 2021
Deliberately plowed into protesters?
‘Protesters pulled the suspect from the vehicle and, from reports of witnesses, began to strike the driver,’ the Minneapolis police said in a statement.
Video footage shows the suspect being held in a chokehold as he is arrested.
The person filming is heard saying: ‘This [man] just came through 100 miles an hour, smashed this car and he just f***ing killed her.’
The cameraman adds: ‘You’re going down boy, you’re going down, it’s over. You b****.’
The man who was hospitalised, was believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It remained unclear if the driver identified as Nicholas David Kraus on social media had deliberately targeted demonstrators.
‘Preliminary investigation indicates that the use of drugs or alcohol by the driver may be a contributing factor in this crash,’ police said.
Speaking to the Star Tribune, the victim’s brother, Garrett Knajdek, 29, said his sister was ‘using her car as a street blockade’ when another vehicle ‘struck her vehicle and her vehicle struck her.’
Fighter of social issues
‘She constantly sacrificing herself for everyone around her,’ he said, ‘no matter the cost, obviously.’
Garrett said his sister, a mother to daughters ages 11 and 13, was active about many issues surrounding justice.
The brother said that Deona Marie worked with people struggling with mental health issues and addiction at The Cottages Group. Wednesday would have marked her 32nd birthday.
‘She was doing good. She had two daughters that she was finally getting back in touch with…building strength. This just…took her away,’ the victims’ brother told KARE-TV.
Posted the Cotages Group in part, ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of her passing. She was a Program Manager who dedicated her time to overseeing two of our community residential sites, she put her heart into her work. She was one of the most selfless people we have had the pleasure of knowing, she earned the respect and trust of those she served because of her true compassion for her work.’
Just 24 hours before her death, Deona Marie had posted on her Facebook page about the significance of the week ahead, noting that she would be marking her one year sobriety on Friday.
Minneapolis on edge
In the days before her death, Deona Marie shared a photo of Smith, posting, ‘we ARE going to get change for you and all the others, we will get justice, you changed the world while you were here and in your name a lot more change is still to come.’
Hennepin County Jail roster records show that a 35-year-old St. Paul man was arrested early Monday in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide, driving after having his license suspended, and giving false information to police. The man does not have a valid license as a result of multiple DUI offenses.
Minneapolis police say they are not releasing the name of the driver, citing investigative purposes. Come Monday afternoon, social media users had identified the driver as Minneapolis man with a history of prior DUI infractions as Nicholas David Kraus.
A march in Deona Knajdek’s honor is slated for Monday evening in Minneapolis. Organizers say they will advocate for laws to protect protesters and harsh sentences for those who drive into them. ‘Deona Marie, you are a change agent,’ organizers wrote in a Facebook event post. ‘Rest in love and power!’
The fatality comes as demonstrators amassed to demonstrate against the police shooting of Winston Boogie Smith, a Black man who was wanted on a weapons violation, with cops saying he fired a gun before deputies fatally shot him.
The ‘black man’s shooting death,’ at the hands of police comes as Minneapolis remains on edge since George Floyd’s death more than a year ago at the hands of ‘white Minneapolis cop’ along with the more recent fatal police shooting of black man, Daunte Wright in a nearby suburb.