The man who made national news last May for driving his tanker into a massive George-Floyd protest in Minneapolis -- just six days after Floyd's murder-- "will see the two criminal charges against him dropped if he remains law-abiding for the next year," according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Bogdan Vechirko, 36, of Otsego, MN, was allowed to enter what is called a "continuance without prosecution" agreement with Hennepin County prosecutors before a district judge Friday. Here's how the Star-Tribune reported the development:
"Vechirko appeared via an online court session that lasted about 20 minutes. The arrangement is not a plea bargain and he didn't speak beyond saying, "yes sir" to Koch's questions about the process. Vechirko wore a suitcoat and dress shirt as he sat behind attorney Kevin DeVore.
"Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman didn't charge Vechirko in the incident until last October, months after it transpired. In charging Vechirko with threats of violence, a felony, and criminal vehicular operation, a gross misdemeanor, the prosecutor said he had admitted to investigators that he was "kind of in a hurry," and that the investigation found he sought to "scare" protesters out of his path.
"The incident was especially unsettling because it came amid days and nights of upheaval in the Twin Cities following Floyd's murder by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Like Floyd's killing, the incident on the bridge was captured on surveillance cameras.
"Vechirko was seen driving his big rig onto the bridge as hundreds of pedestrians protested the death of Floyd. Vechirko said at the time he was returning from a fuel delivery in south Minneapolis and didn't intend to drive into the protest or aim to hurt anyone.
"But the criminal complaint said investigators reviewed cellphone videos showing that Vechirko should have known something was occurring on the bridge because of the large crowd and vehicles stopped on I-35W northbound on the road leading to the bridge.
"The agreement approved Friday requires Vechirko to remain law-abiding for a year, pay restitution and attend three sentencing circles. He's already attended two. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Daniel Allard said Vechirko would be required to pay restitution, but he was unable to provide an amount to the court Friday.
While Vechirko didn't address the court during the brief hearing, one victim was allowed to provide a statement.
Bennett Hartz of Minneapolis, a protester on the bridge that day, talked about the ongoing trauma he experiences from the event, saying he still has nightmares and jumps out of his skin when he hears fireworks or a car backfire. Hartz called it a "miracle" that no one was killed that day.
"Koch acknowledged that, saying, 'I don't think anybody looking at that would have taken any bet that no one would be seriously injured.'
"The criminal complaint said "at least" one protester suffered abrasions as she jumped to get out of the truck's path.
"None of the protesters who attacked and injured Vechirko was charged. Vechirko suffered cuts to his face, and his wife told the Star Tribune that his cellphone, wallet and other items in the truck's cab were stolen."
The incident was reported at RawStory last July as part of a story describing how Trump supporters were getting away with attacking and killing BLM protesters. Here's a passage about Vechirko:
"On May 31, Vechirko drove a tanker truck through protesters on a highway in Minneapolis. Video shows thousands fleeing in panic as Vechirko barrels an 18-wheeler toward them. Newscasters gasped that he went "pretty fast into that crowd." He stops feet short of hitting a person. Another video shows him stopping twice and driving toward the crowd despite bikes and other objects being thrown beneath his truck and protesters clambering on the truck to stop him. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said, "It was one of the most dangerous things I've ever seen." Protesters said, "It was a miracle no one was hurt."Vechirko is also a Trump donor. He's given more than $300 to the "Trump Make America Great Again Committee" and the Republican National Committee since 2018. Vechirko, who has a criminal history that includes arrest for domestic assault, is among 19 documented vehicle attacks against protesters in three weeks. The attacks are reminiscent of the neo-Nazi who murdered anti-racist activist Heather Heyer with a car as she protested right-wing extremists in Charlottesville in 2017, and deadly vehicle attacks by religious extremists inspired by the Islamic State. Despite the grave danger he created, Vechirko was released without charges. The Democratic governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, claims Vechirko appeared confused and was frustrated because the highway was closed. The state has not indicated what is confusing about intentionally driving an 18-wheeler at high speed towards thousands of people, or why being frustrated at traffic mitigates an assault that could have resulted in mass casualties. There is a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures demanding Vechirko be charged."