UPDATE: Criminal Charges Could Soon be Filed Against I-35 Trucker, Authorities Confirm
Minneapolis, MN – It’s been more than a month since Hennepin County authorities released 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko from custody, but he could still face criminal charges.
On Monday, Hennepin County District Attorney spokesperson, Chuck Laszewski, confirmed to Transportation Nation Network (TNN) that authorities could file charges against Vechirko within the month, but need a bit more time to make a final decision.
“There needs to be more work done to determine what went on that day,” Laszewski said.
“That day” Laszewski is speaking of is May 31, 2020, and neither Vechirko or the more than 5,000 protesters who were demonstrating along Interstate 35 in Minneapolis will ever forget it.
As If You Need To Be Reminded…
If you have seen the incredible video of Vechirko unintentionally driving his semi-tanker into the crowd and miraculously avoiding each person, you will likely never forget it either.
Surreal videos from the scene reveal that after Vechirko successfully gets the semi-tanker to a stop without striking anyone, multiple protesters then descended on his truck, bashing in the windshield and eventually pulling him from the vehicle.
Vechirko was physically assaulted by a group of people while some protesters urged the group not to harm him and attempted to shield him from the violence.
Fortunately, police arrived within minutes and deployed a chemical agent to disperse the crowd fearing for everyone’s safety due to a possible leak from the tanker.
Vechirko, whose red shirt had been ripped off during the assaults, was also bleeding from wounds to his face and chest when police were seen quickly placing him in the back of a cruiser before transporting him to a nearby hospital.
He was taken into custody a short time later and held for 48 hours before Hennepin County authorities released him pending further investigation.
Upon his release, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that the investigation was ongoing and charges could still be filed.
Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington also hinted that a criminal charges could be forthcoming.
“We are certainly getting to the right charge that holds him accountable,” Harrington said at a press conference.
Charging Decision Could Come Soon
According to Laszewski, the investigation is still ongoing.
“No decisions have been made,” he told TNN. “Until we get the results of that investigation we can’t make a decision one way or the other.”
However, Laszewski indicated a charging decision could come soon, but could also be made as late as next month.
The pressure on Hennepin County authorities to charge Vechirko remains intense as petitions urging officials to “charge and convict the semi truck driver” have gathered thousands and thousands of signatures.
Meanwhile, Vechirko has remained out of sight and silent since the incident occurred.
The story, which garnered world-wide headlines, struck a sensitive nerve within the trucking community and it has only become more relevant since as protesters continue to stage demonstrations along major U.S. roadways.
The issue is becoming so troublesome, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering unprecedented action in response.
Click HERE to read the latest on these developments.
Protests Either Way
No matter what decision Hennepin County authorities make, it is likely protests will result.
A decision to decline to bring charges would undoubtedly ignite anger from the protesters on the bridge that day likely resulting in more demonstrations and potential unrest.
At the same time, if Vechirko is ultimately charged, many truckers have indicated they would travel to Minneapolis and stage a protest of their own.
It’s shaping up to be a major situation to watch in the coming days.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow this story.
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