Police have released the driver of the tanker truck that drove into a crowd of protesters near Minneapolis on Monday, though his legal problems might not be over.
The office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said possible action against Bogdan Vechirko has been “deferred,” according to press reports quoting a statement from Freeman’s office.
A screen shot of what appears to be a document released by Freeman’s office and posted on Twitter said the reason for the release was that 36 hours had expired since the 35-year-old Vechirko had been taken into custody Sunday evening after driving into a crowd on a bridge on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis. The crowd was protesting following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day at the hands of a police officer in that city.
Nobody in the crowd was hurt. Several people angrily pulled Vechirko out of his truck and assaulted him, which landed him in the hospital.
In a report about the release from television station KARE, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington had been quoted a day ago as saying that it appeared Vechirko “was already on the interstate when barricades were set up to block traffic to ensure the safety of demonstrators.”
“Harrington said Vechirko was ‘running empty’ with no fuel in a tanker trailer and speeding when he encountered the crowd and ‘panicked,’ continuing to barrel forward at a high rate of speed,” the KARE report said.
”Prosecutors did not say whether they thought charging Vechirko remains an option,” the Star Tribune newspaper said of the driver’s release.
The Star Tribune story also quoted a relative, Art Loghinov, who said he had spoken with Vechirko. The incident was “‘not his fault. He didn’t mean for it to happen. He didn’t have any intent to harm or do anything bad to anybody,’” Loghinov said, according to the story.
The story also said a PayPal account had been set up to raise money for Vechirko’s family. His wife is eight months pregnant.