DeAndre Harris was almost beaten to death at the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. Harris’ bloody image circulated social media, resulting in shock and outrage.
But the 20-year-old counter-protester, who said he attended the rally to voice his opinion and not to be violent, is facing a felony charge of malicious wounding that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Harris was forced to turn himself in to the authorities on Thursday. A Charlottesville magistrate judge issued an arrest warrant on Monday after Harold Ray Crews said the young Black man injured him during the fight, according to S. Lee Merritt, Harris’ attorney.
Harris, who incurred a spinal injury, a head laceration and broken bones, is now facing the same charge that at least three of the men who beat him — Daniel Borden, Jacob Scott Goodwin and Alex Michael Ramos — are facing.
Videos circulated social media of the brutal beating of Harris with a metal pipe and wood in a parking garage next to the police department headquarters.
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 12, 2017
During a clash between the white supremacists and counter-protesters, Merritt said that Harris swung a flashlight to stop Crews from impaling another counter-protester with the pole of a Confederate flag, but he “failed to make significant contact.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Merritt said a video of a “completely separate” incident details Crews being hit in the head by an unidentified white male wearing black.
He said that by then, Harris was already at the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital’s emergency room.
Crews describes himself on Twitter as a “Southern Nationalist, Attorney.”
The Charlottesville Police Department issued a statement on Tuesday in regard to the arrest warrant for Harris orchestrated by Crews:
“The victim went to the Magistrate’s office, presented the facts of what occurred and attempted to obtain the warrant. The magistrate requested that a detective respond and verify these facts. A Charlottesville Police Department detective did respond, verified the facts and a warrant for Unlawful Wounding (Va Code 18.2-51) was issued.”
According to The Washington Post, “Any alleged crime victim can approach a magistrate to obtain a warrant against the alleged perpetrator. The alleged victim must file a police report, and then the magistrate needs probable cause to issue an arrest warrant, based on that person’s testimony.”
Detective Sgt. Jake Via, who is supervising the case, said Crews did file a complaint with police.
“The arrest warrant was based solely on the victim’s testimony,” Via told the Post.
Harris said in August that he almost lost his life at the “Unite the Right” rally, where a white supremacist rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
“I got hit in the head and I had to get eight staples in my head to seal it back up,” he told WRAL. “I broke my wrist right here. I busted my lip. I chipped my tooth.
“I’m on my knees just getting beat with poles and signs and being kicked and hit. It’s crazy.”
Harris, a special education instructional assistant who resigned from his position after the beating, said a stranger he only knows as Karen helped keep him alive.
“She talked to me and kept me calm and really kept me awake,” he said. “I was fading and she woke me up. I was losing so much blood, the people at the hospital told me I was lucky.”