The semi-truck driver who authorities say nearly hit protestors on the Interstate 35W bridge during the aftermath of George Floyd’s death was charged with two crimes Thursday.
Bogdan Vechirko, 35, of Otsego, was charged with a felony count of threats of violence and a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in Hennepin County District Court. An investigation found that Vechirko wanted to scare people out of his path, the complaint said.
On May 31, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters were on the bridge east of downtown Minneapolis. Vechirko, who was driving a petroleum tanker truck, approached the bridge from the south and drove straight at the crowd at a high rate of speed, according to the complaint. Vechirko did not stop until someone in the crowd stumbled and fell forward.
Investigators analyzed traffic cameras and several cell phone videos, all of which depicted protesters running in a panic away from the truck and screaming. The videos also showed vehicles stopped in the northbound lanes and drivers heading toward the wrong direction on entrance ramps.
A similar truck was used to re-enact Verchirko’s drive, showing that Verchirko had sufficient time to see the protestors and stop driving well before nearing them, the complaint said.
Numerous people told investigators that they thought they were going to be hit or killed by the truck. At least one person suffered scrapes and abrasions to their leg as they tried to get out of the truck’s path.
Vechirko was charged via summons and his first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 10.