MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - UPDATE: Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington confirmed Monday it appears Sunday's incident was not an intentional act. The driver was already on the freeway when it closed and did not go around any barricades.
A man has been booked into Hennepin County Jail after a truck swerved through a crowd of protesters on I-35W Sunday afternoon.
According to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Bogdan Vechirko has been booked on suspicion of assault.
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Deputies say he is the man who was behind the wheel when the truck went through a crowd standing on I-35W. Police say there have been no reports of protesters hurt after the incident.
The truck came from the south headed north at a high rate of speed, honking its horn as it swerved through the crowd at Washington Avenue.
During FOX 9's review of the footage, it appears the horn was blaring for about 21 seconds.
People react after a man drove a tanker truck into a crowd peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd on the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River on May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A large group of protesters had been marching over th (Getty Images)
A short time later, police moved in quickly to disperse the crowd that pulled the driver from the cab. Helicopter shots showed law enforcement grabbing one man and shoving him into a squad while moving the crowd.
Police say his injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.
Motive not yet know
Speaking a short time after the incident, Governor Tim Walz said they were working to determine the motive behind the act. During the same news conference, he moved to put Attorney General Keith Ellison in charge of the investigation into the death of George Floyd.
Hours later, Commissioner Paul Schnell said authorities were still looking into the motive behind the incident. However, sources tell FOX 9 that Minnesota State Patrol investigators believe Vechirko may have been acting recklessly rather than an intentional act to cause harm.
Truck was on highway after closure
The truck was able to get onto that section of I-35W after state authorities closed that section of the highway in anticipation of further unrest Sunday night. Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says the truck was already on the highway as officers and MnDOT workers were closing it down after 5 p.m.
Harrington initially said the driver did not go through any barriers. Hours later, however, Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said investigators are still reviewing the driver's movements. Schnell said it appears the driver was able to get around "diversions" on the highway.
Sources tell FOX 9 that lawmakers were informed the truck went around workers as they set up barricades Sunday evening.
According to the source, the truck is captured on MnDOT cameras moving around the diversions.
Some protesters protected driver after being pulled from cab
After being pulled from the truck, a mob of people grabbed at the driver. However, a video shared online shows a group of men protecting the driver.
"We can not hurt him," one man said. "It defeats our purpose."
Other members of the crowd shouted "stop" and told the crowd to get the police.
Background on march
The march honoring George Floyd, started just after 4 p.m. Sunday, departed the stadium and headed into downtown toward the Hennepin County Government Center. The group then moved across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, down University Avenue and onto Interstate 35W.
Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday in the death of George Floyd, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said. Chauvin was later charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Officer kneeled on Floyd's neck
Chauvin was seen in a video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd repeatedly says “I can’t breathe.” The officer continued to press his knee onto Floyd’s neck even after he lost consciousness. None of the other officers at the scene attempted to check on Floyd until after the ambulance arrived, despite bystanders’ pleas.
Floyd later died at the hospital. His death has sparked national outrage.
Chauvin and three other police officers, identified as Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were fired following the incident.
According to the charges, Lane and Kueng responded to the initial 911 call from Cup Foods about a customer using counterfeit currency. They located Floyd in a nearby vehicle and, after some resistance, removed him from the vehicle and handcuffed him.
Chauvin and Thoa eventually arrived on the scene. The officers made several attempts to get Floyd into the squad car, but he resisted.
The charges say Floyd began saying and repeated that he could not breathe while he was still standing outside the squad car.
Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the squad car and he went down on the ground, still handcuffed. Kueng held his back and Lane held his legs while Chauvin pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck.
Floyd told the officers “I can’t breathe” multiple times and repeated said “mama” and “please,” but the officers did not move from their positions.
At one point, Lane asks, “Should we roll him on his side?” and Chauvin says no. The body camera video shows Floyd eventually appear to stop breathing or speaking. Kueng checked his pulse and found none, but none of the officers moved until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds, including for two minutes and 43 seconds after Floyd was non-responsive, the charges say.
The full report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner is pending, but preliminary findings from Floyd’s autopsy revealed he likely died from a combination of underlying health conditions, any potential intoxicants in his system and being restrained by police, according to the charges. There was no physical evidence that he died of asphyxia of strangulation.