‘He was confused’: Minnesota Gov. Walz says driver of semi-trailer who plowed his truck through a crowd of thousands before being beaten did NOT do it intentionally
- Video showed the semi-truck speeding toward protesters on Interstate 35 at about 6pm Sunday
- Protesters taking up all lanes of traffic scattered to get out of the rig’s path
- It did not appear that anyone was hit before the truck came to a stop in the road
- Protesters were seen pulling the driver out of the rig and beating him in the road before police arrived
- The driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, was arrested and hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries
- Gov Tim Walz said Monday Vechirko was apparently confused and frustrated, but did not intend to hurt anyone
- It is believed Vechirko somehow got ahead of traffic officials as they were closing the freeway down in sections
The driver of a semi-trailer that rolled into the midst of thousands of protesters who had gathered on a closed Minneapolis freeway to decry George Floyd’s death was apparently confused and didn’t intend to hurt anyone, Gov. Tim Walz said Monday.
A semi-truck barreled into a crowd of thousands of George Floyd protesters marching on a closed interstate near downtown Minneapolis on Sunday night.
Video showed the massive tanker speeding down the I-35W bridge at about 6pm on Sunday as protesters taking up all lanes of traffic fled out of its path.
Minnesota Gov Tim Walz (left) said on Monday it appears Bogan Vechirko (right), the driver of the truck that barreled into a group of George Floyd protesters in Minneapolis on Sunday, was confused and did not intend to hurt anyone
A semi-truck barreled into a line of George Floyd protesters marching on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis on Sunday night
Hundreds of protesters scattered as the truck sped directly at them while they marched across all 10 lanes of traffic
It appeared no one was hurt in the incident, authorities said, but some witnesses said a handful of people sought medical attention on their own. Authorities said they could not confirm that.
‘He wasn’t stopping. He was beeping loudly and driving into a crowd of people,’ Drew Valle, a special education teacher, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ‘That’s the same kind of malice that brought us here. It’s a callous disregard for someone’s humanity.’
After rolling to a stop, the driver of the rig, identified as 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, was dragged from the cabin by angry protesters, beaten up and handed over to the police.
Walz said Monday he was ‘breathless’ as he watched the scene unfold and he thought he was going to see ‘dozens or hundreds’ of people killed.
But he said preliminary information suggests Vechirko somehow got ahead of traffic officials as they were closing the freeway down in sections. He noted the driver braked as he rolled past protesters.
‘The driver was frustrated,’ Walz said. ‘They close in sections and he got ahead of people.’
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said traffic cameras show the driver was already on the freeway before it was closed.
‘From what we can tell in our interviews, we have not had any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act,’ Harrington said. ‘It wasn’t that he went around barricades to get at the protest.’
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MDPS) said the driver was placed under arrest before being taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
He was then booked into Hennepin County jail on a probable assault charge. He was seen with bruises and cuts on his face in his mugshot after being roughed up by the demonstrators.
Dozens of protesters approached the semi-truck after it came to a stop in the roadway
The protesters were seen pulling the driver onto the roadway before police arrived to control the scene
Protesters are seen handing a man believed to be the driver over to police before he was placed under arrest
People climb atop a tanker on Interstate 35W on Sunday. The Minnesota State Patrol said they knew of no injuries from the incident.
Officials say it initially appeared from traffic camera footage that the semitrailer was already on the freeway before barricades were set up at 5pm for the protest
The freeway was among many shut down in the Minneapolis area for the second night in a row as officials imposed an 8pm curfew and sought to make it more difficult for protesters to move around.
Bystander video showed the crowd parting seconds before the semi rolled through, then the tanker truck gradually slowed and demonstrators swarmed the truck.
Harrington said Sunday that between 5,000 and 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time, and it initially appeared from traffic camera footage that the semitrailer was already on the freeway before barricades were set up at 5pm.
The truck was traveling northbound when it came upon the demonstration and maintained a high speed as protesters screamed and scattered.
Authorities identified Vechirko as the driver later in the night and released a pair of mugshots taken at the Hennepin County jail, where he is being held on a probable assault charge.
Vechirko lives in Otsego, Minnesota, and works as an independent contractor for Ken Advantage, a trucking company based in North Canton, Ohio, according to WCCO.
Ken Advantage issued a statement saying it will fully cooperate with the investigation into the interstate incident.
‘Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week,’ the company said.
Protesters are seen pulling the driver out of the rig after it came to a stop in the road
People hold back fellow protesters from the driver of a tanker truck that drove into thousands of protesters marching on I-35
It did not appear that anyone was hit by the semi-truck. Protesters are seen near the truck after the driver was removed
Several police cars quickly arrived to de-escalate the situation after the protesters confronted the driver
An aerial view shows police dispersing the crowds that gathered around the semi-truck
A man is seen looking inside the cabin of the truck that ‘deliberately’ sped into the line of protesters
The interstate incident came on the sixth day of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed when Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck during an arrest on May 25.
The interstate incident came on the sixth day of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd (pictured), a black man who was killed when Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck during an arrest on May 25
Viral video showed Chauvin and three other officers pinning Floyd, who was handcuffed, to the ground as they arrested him for allegedly attempting to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Floyd was heard pleading: ‘I can’t breathe’ while Chauvin continued pressing his knee into the man’s neck for eight minutes.
The 46-year-old did not have a pulse when he was placed in an ambulance, and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The footage prompted fevered outrage as thousands demanded that Chauvin and the other officers be charged with murder.
Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday.
But protests persisted into the weekend as activists railed against police brutality and racial injustice.
Demonstrations in 25 major cities led to numerous clashes between protesters and police seeking to keep things from spiraling out of control – often using rubber bullets and tear gas.
More than 1,300 people have been arrested during protests in cities across the country as several governors mobilized the National Guard for assistance.
A viral video captured the moment Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while the handcuffed suspect repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe
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