U.S.

Minnesota driver sentenced to 20 years for killing protester after driving into crowd in 2021

A St. Paul, Minnesota, man who drove a car into a group of Minneapolis protesters in June 2021, killing one person, was sentenced on Wednesday to 20 years in prison.

In October, Nicholas Kraus pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and second-degree murder for killing Deona Marie Knajdek during the incident.

Nicholas Kraus was sentenced to 20 years for driving into a crowd of protestors in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2021 and killing one person while injuring three others.
(Hennepin County Jail)

Kraus faced a third charge of second-degree assault, which prosecutors dropped as part of the plea deal.

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Kraus was charged for an incident in which he accelerated toward a parked car that was used as a barricade on the street where demonstrators protested the law enforcement killing of Winston Boogie Smith, Jr.

He then struck the parked car, pushing it into the protesters, killing Knajdek and injuring three others.

Minneapolis Police descend on the block long stretch of Lake St. in Uptown just before sunset to dismantle the barricades erected by protesters Tuesday night, June 15, 2021, in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Police descend on the block long stretch of Lake St. in Uptown just before sunset to dismantle the barricades erected by protesters Tuesday night, June 15, 2021, in Minneapolis
(Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via G3 Box News)

G3 Box News station KMSP in Minneapolis reported that Kraus admitted in court in October that he drove into the barricades and crowd on purpose.

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Under questioning, he also admitted to suffering from a mental health issue and being under the influence of narcotics at the time of the crash. What he could not say, though, was what drove him to do it and why.

Before sentencing on Wednesday, Kraus told the court it “should have been me” who died that day, while expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police clear out items used to barricade Lake Street in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A St. Paul man accused of speeding up and driving into a group of protesters in Minneapolis while he was drunk, killing one person, was charged Wednesday with intentional second-degree murder. 

Police clear out items used to barricade Lake Street in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A St. Paul man accused of speeding up and driving into a group of protesters in Minneapolis while he was drunk, killing one person, was charged Wednesday with intentional second-degree murder. 
(Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via G3 Box News)

Kraus told the courts he made a bad choice that day and that he deserved the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.

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Although he said he did not expect the family to forgive him, Kraus apologized to the family.

A victim in the incident told the courts he disagreed with the plea deal and wanted Kraus to be served the maximum sentence.

Ultimately, the court sentenced Kraus to 45 months, or 3.75 years, in prison for second-degree assault and 240 months, or 20 years, for second-degree murder. Both sentences will run concurrently, meaning the most he will serve is 20 years.

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