A Seattle mother was arrested Friday for allegedly slowly reversing her car into a group of police officers on bicycles as she livestreamed herself on Instagram at a demonstration on Monday night.
Laura Eberhard, 32, appeared in court on Saturday for a preliminary hearing where a judge found probable cause for two counts of third-degree assault. She was released on her own recognizance on the condition she reappear at future hearings and not possess any weapons, according to Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Video of Eberhard’s arrest went viral on Saturday and has been seen over 1.5 million times on Twitter. The footage shows her shouting, “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting,” before she tells bystanders her name and provides contact information for her aunt.
An officer then says, “You’re under arrest for assault — multiple counts against police officers. You assaulted me and you assaulted another police officer.”
But despite the claim in the viral tweet about the identity of the arresting officer, Sgt. Lauren Truscott, a spokesperson for the Seattle police, told BuzzFeed News that a gang unit detective made the arrest — not the bicycle-riding officer Eberhard allegedly hit with her car. (Police did claim that several officers had been lightly injured as they tried to arrest Eberhard.)
Before Eberhard was arrested, she had been preparing to go grocery shopping with her son and fiancé, according to her aunt, Rebecca McKee, when a vehicle suddenly blocked her in the driveway. "Then, like 20–30 cops came and surrounded them and started yanking her out of the car in front of her 9-year-old child," McKee said.
Eberhard herself recorded a video of the incident on Monday, in which her car is moving very slowly when police allege it came in contact with the officers.
"And she tapped a police officer’s bike, apparently, so now they’re saying she assaulted a police officer," McKee said. "But in the video, you can clearly see she wasn’t screaming at the police, she wasn’t being violent, and she probably didn’t even know she’d hit the cops, otherwise she would have said something."
According to a criminal complaint, Eberhard was identified due to police body camera footage that captured her license plate as well as stickers on the vehicle.
She allegedly struck an officer named Winningham with “significant force,” which he said left him with ongoing back pain. Eberhard’s video shows her apparently moving at a low speed.
“As officers approached we were moving behind the rear of the vehicle,” Winningham said in an official statement in the complaint. “I then saw the white reverse lights come on and the vehicle began backing up as officers approached. The vehicle appeared to be trying to hit officers and prevent them from being able to move past. The vehicle backed into me and struck me.”
The investigating detective said two other officers also felt the driver was intending to hit them. The only reason they did not stop to arrest her, they told the detective, was because they had been ordered to establish a line elsewhere in the protests.
The detective said the body camera footage showed the driver could have moved forward to avoid the officers. “Initially it appeared as if the driver might have been trying to block the Officers’ movement, but after several of them had already ridden past, the car continued to go backwards, directly into the line of bicycles.”
The detectives also used as evidence a Facebook post from Eberhard’s page earlier that same day showing a Star Wars–inspired cartoon showing a Jedi having run over Storm Troopers using a Landspeeder. “This machine kills fascists,” reads a message on the vehicle. The top of the cartoon features the letters “ACAB,” an acronym meaning “All Cops Are Bastards.”
Eberhard recorded the incident herself during a livestream of herself at the protests on Monday night that she posted to Instagram. In the 45-minute video, she can be seen driving around to different locations as she yells “Fuck the police!”
“I am not here to play fucking games with the police. Come at me, bruh. I will fuck you up,” she says at one point. “Not really though because I’m not volatile like them. I have no need. I don’t have a tiny penis.”
When she arrives at the scene, she speaks to an unidentified woman protester who asks her to create a perimeter with her car as the police approach.
“I’ll be in the line of fire,” Eberhard says. “I can’t help where my car was parked!”
“Watch out. I’m going to create a perimeter,” she says. “Here they come.”
She then angles her cellphone at the window to record herself reversing slowly as more than a dozen officers cycle between her and the curb. As she reverses, at least two officers appear to be pushed on to the curb — but they keep cycling.
“I’m trying to stop police from hurting private citizens and I’m putting myself at risk of going to jail for that,” she says minutes later in the video. “That’s just so insane to me. All I want to do is stop the police from hurting people.”
“There’s a fucking war going on at Cal Anderson Park,” she says.
Eberhard made her Instagram profile private after she was contacted by BuzzFeed News multiple times for comment, to which she did not respond.
Mckee, Eberhard’s aunt, said her niece had gone to the protest in order to help administer first aid and left when police began shooting rubber bullets, offering to drive injured protesters to the hospital.
"It wasn’t an intentional thing," she added. "They arrested her for a bunch of bullshit."
According to the criminal complaint, detectives opted to arrest Eberhard on Friday because they had spotted her child in the car and they did not want her to be on the road with the child when they tried to arrest her. When they did, police claimed there was a struggle and they eventually used pepper spray.
The detective wrote in the complaint that he heard one of the officers tell Eberhard and the crowd of bystanders watching her arrest that she was being taken into custody for an assault on police officers a few days earlier.
“Eberhard responded to this by yelling in the direction of the crowd, ‘I was only trying to save lives!’” the detective wrote.
This article has been updated with a clarification from Seattle Police Sgt. Lauren Truscott about the identity of the arresting officer.
Eberhard appeared in court in a preliminary hearing into whether there was probable cause on the investigation. A previous version of this story incorrectly said she had been formally charged.