White Iowa Man Who Ran Through Crowd Of Protesters In August Gets Chance To Clear His Record
The perpetrator committed the crime during a protest organized by the Iowa Freedom Riders.
January 11, 2021 at 8:49 pm
A white Iowa man, who rammed into a crowd of racial injustice protesters in August, is getting a chance to expunge his records. A judge made the decision in the case of 45-year-old Michael Ray Stepanek last month, deciding to keep him out of prison and to erase his record if he stays out of trouble, The Associated Press reported.
Granting the deferred judgment, which gives Stepanek a chance to be cleared from a felony charge after a three-year probation period, Judge Paul Miller also suspended the $1,025 civil fine. The ruling comes after Stepanek admitted to driving his Toyota Camry through the crowd in Iowa City, Iowa, because the protesters needed “an attitude adjustment.”
White man Michael Ray Stepanek, told police he drove through a crowd of #BlackLivesMatter protesters because they needed “an attitude adjustment.”— Anonymous 👥 (@YourAnonCentral) January 9, 2021
He will avoid prison; have the incident erased from his record if he 'stays out of trouble'.
Report: https://t.co/2S6l70sjCE pic.twitter.com/ZgwKwGndGP
University of Iowa student Eva Sileo, who was one of the protesters hit by the Camry, said it's frustrating to see demonstrators facing harsh charges in other cases while Stepanek gets leniency.
“I think it’s dangerous to have this kind of case occur and just wipe it away,” Sileo told The Associated Press.
Stepanek’s attorney John Bruzek said his client was influenced by social media and political rhetoric before carrying out the attack, but he has now apologized.
“Michael understands how his conduct could have resulted in a much more serious and harmful situation,” Bruzek said.
Stepanek committed the crime during a protest organized by the Iowa Freedom Riders, becoming enraged when demonstrators blocked an intersection. Police said the man first honked his horn and made a U-turn. He then turned off his lights, drove around the block, and turned onto a downtown street before striking multiple protesters, including one person who was dragged on the hood of the car.
"Stepanek shut off his lights and drove around the block, where he chose to turn southbound... where there were no vehicles between him and the protesters. The defendant intentionally struck multiple protesters with his vehicle and sped away," the criminal complaint stated, according to USA Today.
The driver was charged days later, facing one count of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, an aggravated misdemeanor, and one count of willful injury causing bodily harm.
More than a hundred incidents of people driving into protesters were recorded across the country during the past summer, USA Today reported. Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Threats, said at least 43 of the incidents were malicious, and 39 drivers had been charged.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are still pursuing charges against Black Lives Matter protesters involved in last summer's demonstrations, including 15 counts against one person charged with shining a laser beam light in police officers’ eyes.