A total of 18 people are facing charges, 12 of them members of Turkey’s presidential security detail, for violently attacking protesters outside of its D.C. embassy.
The arrests come after a month of investigations. The attack, in which nine people were injured, happened on the afternoon of May 16, 2017, at Sheridan Circle NW.
Extensive video footage shows many armed people in suits or khaki pants, kicking, beating and punching the protesters on the public D.C. street.
One of the protesters, Lucy Usoyan, said the gathering started peacefully, then a group charged at them sending water bottles and cell phones flying.
“I remember the first initial three kicks in my head,” she said. “There were kicks in my back and neck as well, and then I passed out.”
District Police Chief Peter Newsham announced the arrest warrants at a news conference Thursday, saying nine agents, three Turkish police officers and two Canadians are being sought. He also said two arrests were made Wednesday.
"We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against the protesters," Newsham said. "We're not going to tolerate this."
Usoyan said if it wasn’t for the D.C. Police who were on hand, she doesn’t think she would have survived.
“If they hadn’t taken action to protect me, I wouldn’t be…I would be disabled that’s for sure. For sure I would be disabled,” she said. “I wouldn’t survive that.”
One man put Ceren Borazan into a chokehold, and repeatedly told her he was going to kill her in Turkish.
After she ran and locked herself in a car, he told her, “‘Come here get out, you didn’t get enough.”
In another video, a security agent is seen talking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a nearby parked car. The group charged at the protesters directly after the conversation.
Elizabeth Couldjian with the Armenian National Committee of America wants Turkey’s president to be held accountable as well.
“He was clearly viewing what was going on with the protestors, he was speaking to his aide, and that aide relayed a message and immediately attacked,” she said.
Four of the 18 now charged are American. One, Sinan Narin, of Virginia appeared in D.C. Superior Court Thursday. Eyup Yildirim will have to be extradited from New Jersey.
The remaining 14 charged are all Turkish, and all have returned to Turkey. It’s not clear whether they will be extradited to the U.S.
“Now that we have the warrants, now it’s time to bring these folks to justice, which means having the state department, having the Trump administration make sure that they can’t invoke diplomatic immunity,” she said. “Get them back here in Washington, D.C., to stand trial.”