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NYC woman who drove through BLM protest says no to plea deal again

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A Queens woman accused of driving her car through a Black Lives Matter protest rejected a plea deal for the second time – even though she could face up to seven years in the slammer if convicted at trial.

Kathleen Casillo, 53, plowed her BMW into pedestrians in Midtown Manhattan in a caught-on-video incident in December 2020, but she has claimed she hit the pedal out of fear of an angry mob that was trying to pull her and her daughter from the car.

Casillo’s lawyer told The Post she said no to a deal that would have had her plead guilty in exchange for a one-year driver license suspension and six days of community service.

Casillo nixed the plea deal in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday, nearly a year after she first said no to the same offer on charges of reckless assault and reckless endangerment.

Kathleen Casillo turned down a plea deal Tuesday for six days of community service and a suspension of her driver’s license for a year for driving into a group of protestors in 2020.
Kathleen Casillo turned down a plea deal Tuesday for six days of community service and a suspension of her driver’s license for a year.
Steven Hirsch

Her defense attorney Oliver Storch said there are additional videos of the encounter that have surfaced and are being presented to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

“We are in the process of providing the DA’s office with video showing agitators harassing patrons of businesses along the protest before descending on Mrs. Castillo and her daughter by physically putting their hands on the hood of her car, jumping on the hood and attempting to smash the car window and attempting to open said car,” Storch said.

“Nobody should ever have to be forced into a fight or flight predicament when simply on their way to go Christmas shopping.”

Castillo and her then-29-year-old daughter were Christmas shopping when they found themselves faced with BLM protesters at East 39th Street and Third Avenue at around 4 p.m. The group was demonstrating in support of people jailed in the region by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Queens woman faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
The Queens woman faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Steven Hirsch
Casillo was arrested Dec. 11, 2020.
Casillo was arrested Dec. 11, 2020.
Getty Images
Casillo's court appearances have been met with protests of their own.
Casillo’s court appearances have been met with protests of their own.
Steven Hirsch

Casillo claimed that protesters began banging on her car and tried to get her and her daughter out of the BMW before she floored it. Video of the incident showed several pedestrians sent flying as the car veers through the protest.

“I never intended on hurting anyone,” Casillo told The Daily Mail in a 2021 interview. “I just feared for my daughter’s life more than anybody. I thought they were going to pull her out of the car.”

Some local activists had called for increased charges against Casillo, who is Italian American, and have demonstrated outside the courthouse.

One person allegedly hit by the car said at a rally last year that “white supremacy” allowed the driver to believe “she had the right to end the lives of anyone that got in her way, especially BLM protesters,” according to amNewYork.

“This unfortunate incident occurred during the chaos of COVID ravaged 2020 Manhattan, when the streets were ruled by violent agitators engaged in lawlessness with impunity, in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd,” Castillo’s attorney said in a statement.

“Individuals should always be able to protest zealously and loudly but without creating a dangerous situation as happened here,” Storch went on. “Law and order must return to Manhattan with protestors coexisting with citizens not being afraid to be confronted by angry mobs, creating dangerous situations.”

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