"He was smirking," witness remembers, as Glenn Wheet trial is set to begin
MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- “We were just there to kind of show solidarity and raise awareness," remembered Paige Wiseman.
A group of demonstrators gathered on July 4, 2020 to march from Battell Park in Mishawaka to the Main Street bridge to chalk it with the names of victims of police violence in the wake of George Floyd's death. Mishawaka Police set up rows of orange cones to block vehicles from approaching the crowd.
Wiseman was part of the demonstration, and said the group had been on the bridge for about half an hour.
“And then all of the sudden, we see this vehicle come towards us from downtown,” she said.
An SUV, driven by pediatrician Glenn Wheet, approached the cones.
“His bumper touched the first cones," said Wiseman. "Then his vehicle entered the space between the two lines of cones, and then when he touched that second row of cones with his front bumper, that is when people started to approach his vehicle.”
According to her, they surrounded Wheet's SUV to keep him from driving through their demonstration, but Wheet kept driving-- slowly, at first. Wiseman said the crowd started banging on his car and windows to get him to stop-- she almost stepped in front of his car to keep him from going forward.
“Something in my mind told me ‘don’t do that,'" she remembered. "'Stay off to the side.’”
Wheet then sped up, his SUV punched through the crowd, and hit four of the demonstrators-- one of them was dragged before Wheet turned off the bridge and onto Mishawaka Avenue, and at least one was sent to the hospital.
Before his arrest, Wheet called police, and told them he thought the cones were placed by the protesters, and that there was no sign saying the bridge was closed. When he went to tell the demonstrators that he had a right to cross the bridge, they approached and he said he felt threatened and did not intend to injure anyone.
Wiseman, who was on the driver's side of the SUV, refused to believe that claim.
“He was smirking and smiling and looking like he enjoyed every second of it and like he intended to cause conflict and possibly cause harm," she said.
She described his behavior as reckless, and his actions caused harm, going against his oath as a medical professional-- and argued that any punishment should reflect that.
“I’d hate for it to be a slap on the wrist or something he can just get rid of with some money," Wiseman said. "I want him to feel the effects of what he did, I want him to serve time in jail, I want him to have a fine that’s large enough to affect him and I want his medical license to be taken away without the possibility of getting it again. I just feel like we need to take these things seriously.”
Glenn Wheet is charged with criminal recklessness and could face two and a half years in jail. His trial is set to start February 22 at 10:00am.
Wheet declined our request for comment.