State authorities are declining to charge any of the many protesters on the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis who attacked and injured a truck driver who barreled through marchers demonstrating in reaction to George Floyd's death.

The decision comes as authorities press ahead with their criminal investigation of the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, and also try to figure out why his route to the bridge hadn't been impeded miles earlier.

In explaining why the enraged people on the bridge will not be prosecuted, state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said Wednesday that "the scope of the BCA investigation was to determine the intent of the truck driver."

And when investigators questioned Vechirko, they learned the trucker from Otsego was not interested in helping authorities build cases against those who went after him.

"The truck driver indicated to the BCA that he does not wish for charges to be filed against anyone for his injuries or damage sustained during the incident," Oliveira said.

Vechirko suffered cuts to his face, and his wife said this week that his cellphone, wallet and other items in the truck's cab were stolen. The assault stopped only after others on the bridge and police intervened.

In the meantime, investigators continue to look into the potentially deadly actions of Vechirko, who was released from jail Tuesday as the probe continues amid anger from people on the bridge and others that he has not been charged with what authorities initially alleged was assault.

"Even once he got into the crowd, instead of going down the middle, where the crowd had already cleared out, he veered left, stopped, then kept pushing through the crowd despite the people in front of him," said Rachael Wright, who, along with all the others, avoided being hit. "So maybe the first plow through wasn't enough to show intent, but the second was."

State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington at first seemed to exonerate Vechirko on Monday and said he "panicked" and wasn't aiming for the protesters. But he reversed course a day later, saying, "we are certainly getting to the right charge that holds him accountable."

State officials also are trying to piece together why barricades meant to protect the thousands of marchers weren't in place in time to prevent the speeding truck and several other vehicles from coming upon the crowd massed on the bridge over the Mississippi River.

Harrington said the BCA directed the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to seal off the necessary interstate ramps by 5 p.m. to protect the marchers as they made their way from U.S. Bank Stadium to the bridge.

Vechirko was returning from a fuel delivery to a south Minneapolis gas station when he got on Interstate 94 via the Hennepin/Lyndale ramp at 5:44 p.m., that MnDOT spokesman Jeremy Loesch said was not barricaded in time to protect protesters a few miles away congregating Sunday on the I-35W Bridge. The truck would end up nearly hitting many of the marchers.

Harrington said his agency should not bear any blame for what could have been tragic circumstances.

"I don't see us as being culpable," he said. "When you suddenly have a group of people run out into traffic, how fast can you … get the traffic stopped becomes problematic.

"We had a very quick response. Under different circumstances, I would have preferred to have had that highway shut down hours before. Then there would have been little to no chance that [truck being on the bridge] would have happened."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482