A white New York City mother has endured a year of threats from Black Lives Matter protesters and now fears for her and her family’s safety after she drove into a group of protesters who attacked her car while she was going Christmas shopping with her daughter last year, her lawyer claims.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Oliver Storch, a Manhattan-based attorney, said Kathleen Casillo, 53, a retired FedEx worker of over 20 years, has received numerous threats and ‘lives in fear for herself and her family’ after she decided to go Christmas shopping in Manhattan with her 29-year-old daughter on December 11, 2020 and slammed into a group of 50 Black Lives Matter protesters, injuring at least nine.
Casillo, of Howard Beach, Queens, could face seven years in prison after she turned down a six-day community service and one year license suspension plea deal on Wednesday.
She told police in the aftermath of the collision that the demonstrators came up to her car and called her a ‘white privilege b**ch’ before banging on the vehicle and trying to pry open its doors.
Damage to the 2019 black BMW sedan is clearly visible in photos from the incident.
Casillo, a mother of three, was issued no more than a desk appearance ticket for the incident and was released only hours after her arrest. Her 29-year-old daughter was also in the car at the time, but was not charged.
Casillo was also charged with reckless assault in the third degree on February 22.
But since the collision, Storch said, Casillo and her family have ‘been threatened and harassed,’ to the point where she had to be escorted into the Manhattan Criminal Court on Wednesday by security officers as protesters outside compared her to a female Kyle Rittenhouse.
He said he now hopes Casillo could receive a fair trial.
She is due back in court on January 28.
Kathleen Casillo, center, was escorted into Manhattan Criminal Court by security officers on Wednesday, as her attorney, Oliver Storch, right, claims she has received threats to her life
Storch claims Casillo, left, now lives in ‘fear for herself and her family’ after she slammed into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters last year and injured nine
Casillo, 53, rejected the court’s offer for a plea deal which would have offered her six days of community service and one year license suspension, in favor of a trial
Casillo, a mother of three, was issued no more than a desk appearance ticket for the incident and was released only hours after her arrest on December 11, 2020
Casillo was arrested by the NYPD after plowing her car through the ICE demonstration on December 11
In the interview with DailyMail.com, Storch claimed Casillo is not a racist zealot as some protesters are making her out to be. He said she simply decided to go into Manhattan to go Christmas shopping with her daughter on December 11, 2020 when she ‘happens to get swarmed by a mob of angry protesters’ at the intersection of 39th Street and Third Avenue.
At one point, he said, her window was smashed in and she panicked and hit the gas, plowing in to the protesters. The car was impounded after the collision, Storch said, but because it was leased she has continued to have to make payments on it for the past year.
‘This is an unfortunate incident,’ he told DailyMail.com, adding: ‘Not every accident is a crime.’
In the aftermath, The City reported at the time, screenshots posted to social media show Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to a Kathy Bell Casillo with posts supportive of then-President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID pandemic and likes for a group called ‘I stand with Rudy Giuliani.’
The accounts had been deleted in the aftermath, but appear to have been reinstated, albeit without much information made public.
Her Facebook profile now just shows likes for pages about making September 11 a ‘MAJOR National Holiday,’ and putting the Twin Towers on New York license plates. She also follows a page entitled ‘Conservative Politics Today,’ and still seems to be a member of the ‘I stand with Rudy Giuliani’ Facebook group.
Storch has rejected claims that Casillo is racist and intentionally hit the protesters, calling it a ‘false narrative’ that is ‘without merit and deeply disturbing.’ He notes that Casillo did not have a prior criminal history and has ‘no history of having hurt anybody,’ claiming ‘her heart goes out to the victims.’
He said he now hopes Casillo could get a fair trial, claiming protesters who gathered outside the Manhattan Criminal Court on Wednesday were trying to intimidate the prosecutors’ office and Manhattan District Attorney for harsher punishment and sentencing.
‘Mob rule should never be a substitute for letting the legal justice system run its course,’ he said, noting: ‘We want this case to be treated like every other case,’ and ‘We simply ask that Ms. Casillo be given her day in court.’
Protesters outside the courthouse on Wednesday compared Casillo to Kyle Rittenhouse who claimed self-defense when he shot three people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin last year. He was acquitted of all charges
BLM protestors gathered outside of the courtroom as they awaited justice for Casillo’s actions and spoke of the injuries they faced in the aftermath of the collision last year
Protestors had spoken out about the ‘leniency’ towards Casillo’s charges which had been given by Assistant District Attorney Andrew Mercer
Casillo had injured at least nine protestors after plowing her car through the demonstration
But outside the court room, BLM protesters waited for what they deem to be justice for Casillo’s actions.
She had been captured on video plowing through the demonstration last year which had left at least nine protestors wounded.
‘Last year on Dec. 11, Kathleen Casillo drove her car at top speed through a crowd of human beings. I was one of those human beings—I never saw her coming,’ Roque Rodriguez told AMNY.
‘She hit me flush from behind and set my body flying and flipping through the air and she kept driving.
‘It’s white supremacy that allowed Kathleen to believe she had the right to end the lives of anyone that got in her way, especially BLM protesters.’
‘It has been a very long year. Kathleen Castillo’s car left me with five bulging discs in my back and a traumatic brain injury,’ Tabitha Howell said.
‘It’s one thing to face physical recovery. It’s another to try to process what happened mentally and emotionally.’
The protestors had also chastised Assistant District Attorney Andrew Mercer as they believed he had given Casillo a ‘lenient’ charge.
‘Andrew Mercer neglected to follow up with seven of the nine people who were directly hit and impacted by this crime,’ Rodriguez added.
‘You’ve never spoken to them. He did no due diligence, and instead assumed that Kathleen did not have bad intentions and that no one else was seriously harmed.’
In a statement to AMNY, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said: ‘Our office has attempted to speak with every victim in this case.’
Casillo’s BMW had plowed through a crowd of about 50 people which had left multiple injured
Casillo claimed demonstrators had come up to her car and called her ‘a white privilege b**ch’ before banging on the vehicle. Damage to the car is clearly visible in this snap
A protester shouted at NYPD officers on the scene in the aftermath of the collision last year
A bike is seen laying at the intersection after Casillo had plowed through the intersection of East 39th Street and 3rd Avenue
Police blocked off the traffic on the scene of the accident last year as authorities tried to render aid to the injured protesters
Casillo, though, insists she was the victim, and says she only drove off after the protesters began attacking her car as she tried to move along a public road. She claimed at the time she panicked and hit the gas as protesters began banging on her car and trying to open the doors, the New York Daily News reported last year.
The group of protesters were holding a demonstration in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood to show support of those on hunger strike at an ICE facility in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Multiple people being held in the government facility have gone without food for four weeks now to draw attention to their poor treatment in the facility.
Video footage had captured the moment during the protest when Casillo then plowed her vehicle through the crowd.
The footage revealed a few protestors surrounding Casillo’s vehicle before the incident as a couple of them appeared to be banging on her car.
She had also claimed she did not remember hitting anybody when her foot was on the accelerator as she attempted to flee the scene.
One of the protesters was seen with his leg bandaged after Casillo’s car struck the group of protesters
An injured protester is seen being loaded into an ambulance following the incident
Multiple injured protestors were taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for their injuries
Most of the injured protestors were taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for their injuries.
In the aftermath, a protester, Nicolle Besuden, was also arrested for interfering with an EMT rendering medical aid to one of the injured victims.
She was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration, and was also given a desk appearance ticket.
She said in an email to the Gothamist afterward that she was helping an injured friend tell first responders to give him some space, as he was becoming distressed at the number of police responding to the site.
She claimed: ‘I would never stop medical professionals from assisting an injured person.’