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Three arrested in Flagstaff after man interrupts downtown protests
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Three arrested in Flagstaff after man interrupts downtown protests

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Police situation

A Saturday protest downtown against police brutality led to the arrest of two protesters and a man who had driven his car into the demonstrators'  path, police said recently.

Nearly 100 protesters gathered Saturday to protest police violence and specifically to bring attention to the federal use of force in Portland.

James Kleinhenz, 51, Taymond Tolthe, 24, and a minor were all arrested as a result of the altercation. Kleinhenz has been an organizer of past protests opposing defunding the police, and has been quoted by the Arizona Daily Sun in articles about police funding protests.

Saturday's arrests mark the first made at gatherings in Flagstaff since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests around the country. Other crimes have been committed in previous protests, such as when a person broke a Flagstaff Police Department Substation window, but no arrests have been made in that incident, according to Charles Hernandez, spokesman for the Flagstaff Police Department.

Soon after the Saturday incident, people from the protest posted pictures and comments online about the altercation alleging Kleinhenz tried to drive into protesters and use his firearm on people -- which the police are still looking into.

Hernandez said they have seen the social media posts from Kleinhenz, but they have not had people file official reports from victims or witnesses on the subject.

"For witnesses who may have seen other information that isn't reported or reflected in the reports, we ask they could give us a call to make sure we can address those concerns, especially if they're victims of those crimes to ensure we do our part as a part of protecting them as well," Hernandez said, adding that people at the protest did not want to give their names or reports to officers.

Protesters gathered at 4 p.m. on Saturday near the intersection of Franklin Avenue and South San Francisco Street. During the demonstrations, people could be seen marching in the streets on East Beaver Street, South San Francisco and West Route 66.

The incident began when Kleinhenz drove his SUV westbound into the West Route 66 intersection near the railroad tracks on South San Francisco. Kleinhenz stopped his vehicle in front of the Crystal Magic business. Nearby protesters approaching the intersection were angered when Kleinhenz "flipped off" protesters with both hands, according to Hernandez.

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Protesters then proceeded to surround the man's SUV and open the door to take his cell phone and keys. A protester who is a minor broke the cell phone with his skateboard. Other protesters threw the vehicle keys and man’s cell phone onto the roof of the Crystal Magic business.

Witnesses then told police that Kleinhenz exited his vehicle with a handgun drawn at his side. Police officers at the scene took the man's handgun to quickly de-escalate the situation.

Protesters reportedly threw eggs and at least one large rock at the vehicle while also attempting to break windows of the vehicle with a blunt object.

Police spoke with Kleinhenz, who displayed signs and symptoms of being intoxicated, prompting a driving while intoxicated investigation.

Protesters occupied the intersection around the SUV for approximately 15 minutes until the car was towed away from the scene.

Kleinhenz was arrested for driving under the influence and having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, but was not booked into the Coconino County jail. Meanwhile, Tolthe was arrested for burglary, criminal damage, obstructing a public thoroughfare, refusing to provide a truthful name and disorderly conduct. Tolthe was also charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

The minor was charged with felony criminal damage.

Tolthe was booked in Coconino County jail, while Kleinhenz was not. Hernandez cited the aggravated assault charge against an officer, saying Tolthe was booked in jail for a violent crime. Kleinhenz's driving while impaired accusations were not considered violent and he was cited and released, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the investigation will remain open, but their investigation won't reflect online allegations without an official report being filed.

"If crimes occur, we rely on victim statements as well as witness statements to develop probable cause for charging and arresting people, proceeding through adjudication and with court proceedings," Hernandez said. "We need witnesses to come to court to tell the judge or jury what he saw and why we ended up arresting people."

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