Woman arrested as driver of car that injured two people after Monday’s demonstration against racism

Two people were injured by the driver of a car after an anti-racism demonstration that took place on the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington on Monday night.

Booking Photo
Booking photo for Christi Bennett, who was arrested for three alleged offenses in connection with the injuries to two people after an anti-racism demonstration Monday night.

In separate press releases on Thursday morning, the city of Bloomington and Bloomington Police Department (BPD) announced that 66-year-old Christi Bennett of Scottsburg, Indiana, has been arrested as the driver.

The Monroe County prosecutor’s office told The Square Beacon late Thursday morning that information on charges is expected to be released sometime late afternoon on Thursday.

Bennett was booked on three alleged offenses: criminal recklessness; leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury; and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury.

What brought out anti-racism demonstrators at 5:30 p.m. on Monday were some events that took place over the weekend.

On Sunday, Vauhxx Booker, who is an activist and a member of Monroe County’s human rights commission, posted to Facebook a video showing parts of an incident at Lake Monroe on July 4. The video shows him being held down against a tree trunk by a white man who would not let him go. According to Booker, the man told his comrades several times to “get a noose.”

As of mid-morning on Thursday, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office had not received the case from DNR officers—but it’s expected sometime Thursday.

The episode involving Booker as the target of a racist attack at Lake Monroe came the day after another episode that exposed a racist side to the community. A Black man, Darwin “Dee” Davis Jr., posted a video to Twitter of himself being stopped walking in his own Bloomington neighborhood for questioning by an off-duty sheriff’s detective.

Both recent local incidents came in the context of nationwide and local demonstrations over the May 25 killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women.

In BPD’s press release, the episode in connection to which Bennet was arrested is described as starting near the intersection of North Walnut and East 4th streets. The Bishop bar is on one corner of the intersection; the empty lot where the 4th Street parking garage is diagonally across from the Bishop.

A passenger of a red Toyota got out of the car to throw an electric scooter out of its path. After that, a woman—who was eventually injured—approached the red Toyota and told in front of it with her hands on the hood of the car, according to the release. The driver of the car, who police say is Bennett, then started to accelerate, which caused “the woman to go up onto the hood of the car,” according to the BPD release.

Another person then grabbed the car and clung to it as it accelerated north on Walnut Street, according to the release.

That’s consistent with the narrative The Square Beacon heard from Geoff Stewart on Monday night, went he said he saw a woman clinging to the hood of the car that had driven into the group, and climbed onto the hood himself. He did not know the woman, but did not want her to be the only one on the hood, Stewart said. As the car drove north on Walnut, Stewart said he tried to obscure the driver’s side of the windshield to get the driver to slow down.

When the red Toyota turned east on 6th Street, both Stewart and the 29-year-old woman, who was more seriously injured than Stewart were slung from the car. The woman was reportedly knocked unconscious, according to the BPD news release. She was transported from the scene by ambulance for treatment.

BPD had been provided with license plate information and other cell-phone video evidence from bystanders on Monday night. The delay in finding Bennett and the passenger, who was not arrested, stemmed from an invalid address on the vehicle registration.

According to BPD’s release, on Wednesday, it was determined that the registered owner of the red Toyota was staying at a motel in Scottsburg, Indiana. The passenger and the driver of the car were located. The passenger was interviewed and released.

The driver, identified as Christi Bennett of Scottsburg, Indiana, was taken to BPD to be interviewed by detectives, according to the BPD press release. Bennett and her attorney declined to provide a statement, according to the release. So Bennett was taken to the Monroe County jail and booked.

According to the release, the car was impounded so it can be processed for possible evidence that could be related to the incident.