A Champlin man who admitted crashing into a north Minneapolis bus shelter and injuring six men last summer has been found mentally incompetent for sentencing, according to court records and a spokesman Tuesday.
George R. Jensen, 84, was due in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday, but the session was canceled hours before it was to occur because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Jensen’s lawyer and prosecutors agreed to waive the hearing with Judge Lisa Janzen, according to courts spokesman Spenser Bickett and court records.
An entry in the record dated Tuesday indicates Jensen was “found incompetent.”
His mental state will be reviewed in six months, and he is expected back in court Jan. 5.
In February, Jensen pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal vehicular operation on July 9 and blamed his health and mental confusion.
The plea deal called for Jensen to serve three years on probation, perform 100 hours of community service focused on distracted and elderly driver education and the lose his driver’s license.
But before sentencing, Judge Jay Quam ordered Jensen to undergo a presentence neurological exam.
At the time of the plea, Jensen’s lawyer Mark Kelly said Jensen has early onset dementia, though Jensen told the judge he understood the court proceedings.
Kelly declined to comment Tuesday.
The case drew scrutiny from Black activists who accused Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman of giving Jensen preferential treatment because he is white and his victims, who suffered severe injuries, are Black.
Activist Spike Moss was dismissive of the latest development, saying, “I’m surprised they dragged it out this long trying to find a way to let him go.”
According to the criminal complaint: On July 9, Jensen spoke to three women in front of the bus stop at the intersection of W. Broadway and N. Lyndale Avenue. A woman told police she knew Jensen as “Howard,” and that he had been a regular in the area for three years.
He gave women $10 in exchange for their phone numbers.
One witness said Jensen was “circling the area trying to find a woman to pick up,” but the women turned him down.
Surveillance video captured Jensen driving away from the women, sideswiping a Metro Transit bus, backing up and hitting the bus again. He pulled into the intersection “in order to give himself a view of the bus shelter on Broadway,” the charges said.
Jensen veered onto the curb and accelerated “slowly,” striking a bench, news stand and a bike rack before crashing into the bus shelter.
Five men were taken to hospitals; one man was treated at the scene.
According to authorities, one man suffered pelvic fractures and “significant” blood loss; another suffered rib fractures, a lacerated spleen and broke both legs, among other injuries; a third suffered a traumatic brain injury and several broken ribs; a fourth suffered a fractured spine; and a fifth suffered several rib fractures.