A tanker driver who drove into a crowd of George Floyd protesters marching on a highway in Minneapolis last year will have his charges dismissed if he is law-abiding for one year. The alarming incident happened just six days after the May 25 death of Floyd. Luckily, there wasn’t any casualty.
According to WCCO, Bogdan Vechirko, 36, has been charged with felony threats of violence and gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation in connection with the incident. However, those charges could be cleared off his records within a year if he successfully completes a restorative justice program, his attorney said. Vechirko appeared before a court on Friday to agree to the conditions.
Besides staying out of trouble for a year, Vechirko will also have to pay restitution as well as take part in three sentencing circles. The basis behind the sentencing circles is to provide a platform for victims to heal and also grant perpetrators the opportunity to atone for their actions among other things. Vechirko’s attorney said his client has already completed two of the sentencing circles and he is on course to also attend the final one.
Vechirko made headlines on May 31 last year when he drove a tanker truck at high speed into thousands of protesters who were marching on the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis following the death of Floyd. Vechirko ultimately hit the brakes and brought the truck to a halt only after one of the people in the crowd fell while trying to get out of harm’s way.
In the aftermath of the incident, Vechirko told investigators he was “kind of in a hurry” and thought the protestors would grant him the right of way if he drove slow, WCCO reported. He also claimed he was unaware there was an ongoing protest on that road, adding that the on-ramp he used to enter the highway had also not been blocked, according to NBC News.
Vechirko was facing up to five years behind bars for the felony charge and up to a year in prison for the gross misdemeanor charge.