SALT LAKE CITY – A man captured on video aiming a bow and arrow at protesters in Salt Lake City over the weekend was charged Thursday with assault and weapon possession.
Brandon McCormick, 57, of Taylorsville, was reportedly pushed to the ground on Saturday after shouting “All lives matter!” and pointing the weapon at people protesting the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police, according to charging documents. People then flipped over his car and set it on fire. Video of the incident garnered widespread attention online.
He is charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, aggravated assault and threatening or using a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel. No attorney was listed in court records who could comment on McCormick’s behalf.
McCormick was seen getting out of his car and yelling, “All lives matter!” police said in court documents. Video footage shows he grabbed a large knife from his car and moved toward a crowd while continuing to yell.
McCormick then went back to his car, where he grabbed a bow and arrow, according to additional footage. He drew the arrow back and pointed it at several people in the crowd, police said.
Police didn’t arrest McCormick the day of the protest because they didn’t see him point the bow and arrow, Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said.
Officers did see him being beaten by the crowd and treated his injuries, but in the chaos didn’t realize what he had done before they arrived, he said.
Authorities opened an investigation after video emerged that culminated in the charges filed Thursday.
District Attorney Sim Gill said his office had to verify the video footage and follow up with witnesses before charges could be filed. He also underscored the impact McCormick’s actions had on the surrounding protesters.
“Here’s a person who came down on what was otherwise people’s civil rights to go out and protest,” Gill said. “And he came out there, and he inserted himself in a way that was violent and had potential for some great harm to people who were frightened.”
In an interview McCormick gave Monday to the Fox 13 TV station, he said his actions were not driven by racism.
“It has nothing to do with racism,” McCormick told Fox 13. “I just feel that all lives matter. That’s why I was chanting that the whole time.”
McCormick has a criminal history that spans across California and Utah. He was convicted in San Bernardino, California, on felony charges of battery on a peace officer or fireman and the possession, manufacturing or selling of a dangerous weapon.
He was charged with assault in Taylorsville May 7 in a suspected road rage incident, Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray said. McCormick was reportedly angry that another car pulling a trailer was driving too slow, resulting in a fistfight.
In a separate incident, three other men have been charged in the destruction of a Salt Lake City police car set on fire during protests Saturday.
Connor Peebles, 21, of Belmont, Michigan, helped flip the vehicle onto its roof, prosecutors said in court documents. Peebles was charged Wednesday with felony counts of criminal mischief and rioting.
A police officer was arriving at the police station when she was surrounded by a crowd of people who began pounding on the windows, prosecutors said. Other officers helped her out of the car before it was destroyed.
Peebles later told police that he had damaged the patrol car and thrown water bottles at police officers, authorities said in court documents.
Peebles could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the riot count. The criminal mischief count carries a more severe punishment because of the number of people involved with flipping the car and is punishable by up to life in prison, according to court documents.
Two Salt Lake City men who are accused of tossing combustible substances into the patrol car were both charged with arson in federal court on Wednesday.
The police car had over $5,000 worth of damage, according to police.
No attorney was listed in court records who could comment on Peebles’ behalf.
Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.