MINNEAPOLIS — A truck driver who drove into protesters in Minneapolis days after the police killing of George Floyd is now facing charges in connection with the incident, according to multiple reports.
Bogdan Vechirko, 35, faces a felony charge of making threats of violence and a misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation charge stemming from the May 31 encounter, according to the Star Tribune. Authorities said Vechirko admitted that he was “kind of in a hurry” when he drove into protesters gathered on the Interstate 35W bridge, the newspaper reported.
In a complaint obtained by WCCO-TV, officials said Vechirko had enough time to stop before striking protesters; however, he told authorities that he hoped the crowd would clear his path if he drove slowly enough. Officials said Vechirko “wanted to scare the crowd out of his path.”
Vechirko told officials that he was returning from a fuel delivery on May 31 when he encountered the crowd. He said he didn’t mean to drive into the demonstration or to hurt anyone, the Star Tribune reported.
In a statement obtained by KARE, Vechirko’s attorneys said he “saw the crowd start to clear and relied on his professional instinct and training to avoid a hard brake that would have jackknifed the truck and could have seriously injured or killed thousands of people.”
“Instead (he) slowed his vehicle while maneuvering through the parted crowd,” the statement said.
John Harrington, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told WCCO-TV that no one was seriously injured.
“This scenario could have been incredibly tragic if not for Mr. Vechirko’s actions,” his attorneys said, according to KARE. “It is difficult to comprehend how Mr. Vechirko’s conduct has now resulted in him being charged with a felony.”
The Star Tribune reported Vechirko stopped after a protester fell to the side of the truck on May 31, after which he was attacked by demonstrators. His truck was also vandalized, according to the newspaper.
Thousands of people were on the bridge on May 31 to protest Floyd’s death. Video posted online days earlier showed the 46-year-old being pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer for more than nine minutes before his death on May 25, sparking international outrage.
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