This article was originally published on June 18, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The tanker truck driver who drove into the middle of a George Floyd protest on the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis will have his charges dropped if he meets the conditions of a restorative justice program.
Bogdan Vechirko, 36, of Otsego faces a felony charge of threats of violence and a gross misdemeanor charge of criminal vehicular operation.
On Friday during a court hearing, Vechirko entered into a continuance for dismissal. According to his attorney, he is participating in a restorative justice program and if Vechirko meets the conditions, his charges will be dismissed in one year.
As part of the restorative justice program, Vechirko will be required to pay an undetermined amount of restitution, remain law-abiding and participate in three sentencing circles. His attorney says he has already attended two of the sentencing circles and will complete the third within a month.
According to the courts, sentencing circles are meant to promote healing for all affected parties, provide an opportunity for the offender to make amends, give the community a voice and address the underlying causes of criminal behavior.
On May 31, 2020, Vechirko drove through a crowd protesting the death of George Floyd on the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Vechirko allegedly failed to stop for the crowd until a person stumbled and fell, compelling him to stop. At least one person suffered scrapes and abrasions to their legs.
The complaint said Vechirko’s line of sight would have given him sufficient time to stop his truck after viewing the crowd. Additionally, investigators obtained the semi truck, tested it in the same conditions and determined there was time to stop.
Vechirko also allegedly admitted that he was “kind of in a hurry” and hoped the crowd would let him pass if he went slow.
In the hours following the incident, DPS Commissioner John Harrington said that an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time the truck sped through. There were no serious injuries.
Harrington says the truck was already on the interstate before the incident, even though it had closed about 40 minutes earlier at 5 p.m. and barriers were in place specifically for the marchers.
If Vechirko was convicted on the charges, he could have faced up to five years in prison on the felony charge and up to one year in prison on the gross misdemeanor charge.
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