Racial bias and alcohol are believed to have fueled a hit-and-run incident at a Twin Cities park in which a man allegedly used his van to strike a woman.
The attack happened around 7 p.m. on July 15 at Lake Gervais County Park in Little Canada, according to a criminal complaint that charges 63-year-old Gregory A. Johnson, of St. Paul, with one count of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of DWI.
Per the complaint, Johnson was allegedly sitting alone at a picnic table and drinking from a tall blue cup. He was seen pouring liquor into the cup, with witnesses saying he was "very intoxicated" with slurred speech and he was struggling to walk.
The victim said Johnson cursed at her and her Asian family and told them to "speak the language I speak" before saying, "you shouldn't be here," according to the complaint. The family offered Johnson food but he refused, with witnesses telling police that Johnson was hateful toward the family because of their race and skin color.
Johnson left only to return a short time later driving a Toyota Sienna aggressively onto the grass and towards the trash cans nearest the victim's family. Johnson then put the van in reverse, squealing the tires and leaving skid marks on the grass and sidewalk.
The victim was afraid Johnson would hit her vehicle that was parked just yards away, and when she yelled at Johnson to stop he allegedly drove directly at her, made eye contact and hit her. The force of the collision sent the woman flying backwards before landing on her back.
She lost consciousness and by the time medics arrived she crying, shaking, having difficulty breathing and seeing and struggling to talk. She was taken to Regions Hospital where she was referred to a brain trauma unit for care.
The complaint says Johnson's attempt to flee the scene ended when he crashed into a tree, at which point the victim's family stopping him from running from the scene.
Johnson told police that he had "two" drinks, though officers documented him smelling of a "strong odor of alcohol." A preliminary breath test registered at 0.20, which is more than twice the legal limit in Minnesota.
The charging document notes that Johnson has three felony convictions on his record, including drunken terrorist threats toward his mother; fourth-degree assault after hitting parked vehicles while driving drunk; and one for throwing a urine sample at officers.
He also had a DWI in Ramsey County in 2011, in addition to currently waiting on results from a competency examination after he was charged with two counts of threats of violence connected to a June 22 incident.