Driver Who Hit Columbus Day Protesters Under Reno Arch Gets No Jail Time


The driver of a white Nissan truck encounters protesters at a DAPL march before driving through the crowd on Monday night. Five were injured and one hospitalized following the incident. (Photo: Provided by Louis Magriel)

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, Feb 15, 2017

A Reno man who seriously injured a woman after driving his truck through a crowd of people who were rallying for Native American rights under the city’s famous arch has escaped jail time after pleading guilty to provoking assault.

According to News 4, Court records show that Nicholas Mahaffey changed his original plea of not guilty and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and anger management counseling. He could face 180 days in jail if he breaks any laws in the next two years.

The incident occurred on Oct 10th last year, when the American Indian Movement organized a protest of Columbus Day. Protesters suggested the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day instead. Some participants were also protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Nicholas Mahaffey

Nicholas Mahaffey

KOLO reports, Mahaffey, who was 18 at the time was not charged with anything related to driving through the Columbus Day protesters because both he and his 17-year-old passenger were threatened and punched after they stopped their vehicle in front of the protesters who were blocking Virginia Street under the Reno Arch.


Videos posted to social media showed Mahaffey driving past the group as it marched up north Virginia Street and yelling at them before driving south on Virginia Street to meet the protesters. Mahaffey revved his engine several times after pulling up to the crowd and inched forward, then drove his truck into the protesters.

WARNING: Video contains graphic language and violence.

Five people reported injuries, and one required hospitalization.

Fifty-nine-year-old Kitty Colbert was seriously injured in the assault.

“I believe it was premeditated hate crime from what his remarks were,” said Raquel Arthur, president of the Northern Nevada chapter of the American Indian Movement, told News 4 in October.

Three days after the incident, the Reno Police Department issued arrest warrants for Mahaffey on suspicion of provoking assault and for two protesters on suspicion of battery.

One protester was sentenced to 10 days in Washoe County Jail, while the other was sentenced to community service.