An avowed member of the Ku Klux Klan now faces a lighter sentence and has fewer misdemeanor convictions after appealing lower court convictions for driving his truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer in Henrico County.
Harry Rogers, 37, of Hanover County, pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of assault, and one count each of destruction of property and hit and run. Each of the five misdemeanors carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.
In August, Rogers was convicted of six misdemeanors and sentenced to 12 months in jail for each of those counts in General District Court for the June 7 incident, in which no one was seriously injured.
Rogers appealed the lower court’s convictions to Circuit Court, where he would have faced three additional felony charges of malicious wounding. Rather than go to trial next week, he entered a guilty plea Thursday. In exchange for his plea, the three felony charges and a fourth misdemeanor count of assault were dropped Thursday.
There was no agreement between the prosecution and the defense as to sentencing.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, when he faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail, a year less than the six he had received in August.
Around 5:45 p.m. on June 7, Rogers drove his blue Chevrolet pickup truck through a march that had started around 4 p.m. at Bryan Park and wound through the Lakeside area, north of the A.P. Hill monument. He struck at least two people, running over one man’s toe and damaging the bike the man had been riding, and hitting one woman twice who stepped in front of the truck and forcing her to jump onto the hood. Neither sustained serious injuries.
At his trial in August, he was convicted of assaulting a third victim based on video footage of that person being struck by Rogers’ pickup. But that person was never identified, and that misdemeanor assault charge was the one that was dropped Thursday.
Rogers’ girlfriend’s 14-year-old son was in the passenger seat of his truck during the incident.
After he fled the scene, but before he was arrested by Henrico police, Rogers took to social media boasting about his actions.
“This Chevrolet 2500 went up on the curb and through the protest,” he said on a Facebook live video that was played during Thursday’s hearing. “They started scattering like [expletive] cockroaches. ... It’s kind of funny if you ask me.”
Henrico police arrested Rogers near the A.P. Hill monument, which Rogers told police he and 20 others were there to defend. On Thursday, Rogers’ attorney George Townsend said his boasts that others were involved were “complete puffery.” But he said Rogers is a member of the KKK.
“He was born into it,” Townsend told the judge. “That was never hidden.”
A search of his car recovered a pistol, which Rogers had on his hip during the encounter with protesters, and a rifle, as well as ammunition and magazines. Police also found several patches with Confederate and KKK iconography and a document called the “The Practice of Klanishness,” which a gang unit officer described as “like a book of the Bible” to KKK members at Rogers’ trial in lower court.
Townsend said in court that he plans to present mitigating evidence at Tuesday’s sentencing but offered a brief statement to the judge in defense of his client on Thursday.
“The only people that made contact with the truck were those who put themselves in front of the truck,” he said.