A truck driver who drove through a group of protesters on a bridge in Minneapolis now faces two criminal charges.
On Thursday, Hennepin County prosecutors charged Bogdan Vechirko with making threats of violence and criminal vehicular operation. The charges are a felony and a gross misdemeanor, respectively. The prosecutors believe Bodgan was attempting to frighten the protesters to clear out his path, and he had plenty of time to scare them, ABC News reports.
Thousands were protesting on the Interstate 35W bridge in early June, six days after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Nobody was critically injured, but one protester did suffer a minor injury after trying to jump out the way of the truck.
Entrances to the highway were closed by authorities as a precaution, but Vechirko managed to get on the highway from an entrance that was left open for reasons still unclear. According to Vechirko’s attorney, when the trucker saw the the protesters he “relied on his professional instinct and training to avoid a hard brake that could have jackknifed the truck and could have seriously injured or killed thousands of people, and instead slowed his vehicle while maneuvering through the parted crowd.”
Vechirko added that he was returning from a fuel delivery and didn’t intend to drive into the protesters or injure anyone. Gov. Tim Walz and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington cosigned that assessment and felt the footage showed that he was simply confused.
While it’s entirely possible Vechirko was confused, even if that was the case the dude looks dumb as hell. First, there’s no way that six days after George Floyd’s death you didn’t at least have an inkling of what was going on in Minneapolis. You would literally have to be the Patrick Star of Minneapolis for that to make sense.
Knowing there had been ongoing protests in the city, and seeing that the highway is closed save for one entrance, common sense would say “hey, maybe I shouldn’t go on the highway.” At the very least, call someone to see what’s going on with the highway.
Vechirko is currently not in custody and it’s unclear when his first hearing will be.