Reynolds says trooper who hit Black Lives Matter protester acted “appropriately”

Jaylen Cavil, a leader in Des Moines Black Lives Matter, attends a protest outside Polk County Jail. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

An Iowa State Patrol trooper who hit a Black Lives Matter protester with a vehicle while driving for the governor acted “appropriately,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday.

On June 30, an Iowa State Patrol trooper driving a vehicle carrying Reynolds hit Jaylen Cavil, a leader in Des Moines Black Lives Matter, outside of an event in Ackley. 

Cavil was outside the event with other protesters demanding Reynolds sign an executive order restoring felon voting rights.

Reynolds, who was asked about the confrontation during a press conference on Tuesday, said Cavil intentionally “sped up” and stepped in front of the vehicle.  

“You cannot block traffic as we’re leaving an event,” Reynolds said. “He acted inappropriately.”

While Cavil acknowledges he intentionally blocked the governor’s vehicle as an act of non-violent disobedience, he said the driver could have backed up and driven a different route instead of hitting him. He also said he did not speed up to step in front of the car. The Iowa State Patrol told The Des Moines Register after the incident that no one was injured and there was no damage to the vehicle.

“It was the state patrol officer driving her car who acted inappropriately,” Cavil said after watching the press conference. “Iowans should be worried that our governor can so easily dismiss the fact that it was her vehicle that struck a pedestrian and then drove away. If it were anyone else in that vehicle, it would have been a completely different story.”

Cavil said he’s sat in two meetings with the governor in the past and stood behind her when she signed the police reform bill on the steps of the Capitol. Reynolds acknowledged on Tuesday that she has not reached out to Cavil since he was hit by the car.

Des Moines Black Lives Matter protesters have been asking Reynolds to sign an executive order restoring felon voting rights as soon as possible. While Reynolds has not indicated when she intends to sign an order, she said it will be done prior to the November election.

While his situation has made national headlines, Cavil said he wants Iowans to focus on the fact that Reynolds still has not signed an executive order.

“She’s not holding up to the commitment she made to us,” Cavil said.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.