Last month, a judge granted 45-year-old Michael Ray Stepanek a deferred judgment despite him admitting to police that he drove his Toyota camera into a crowd of protestors in August because they needed "an attitude adjustment." Judge Paul Miller's sentence means that the felony charge of willful injury resulting in bodily injury will be dismissed and expunged as long as Stepanek stays out of trouble for three years. He also had the $1,025 civil fine levied against him suspended.
Although he used his car as a weapon, Stepanek's crime is not considered a "forcible felony" in Iowa. He also didn't have a criminal history, making him eligible for this exemption. One of the protestors he hit did advocate for no prison time, but she was unaware that the charge could be expunged.
"I think it’s dangerous to have this kind of case occur and just wipe it away," University of Iowa student Eva Sileo said.
Stepanek's attorney, John Bruzek, claims that the grown man was influenced by social media rhetoric that characterized the protestors as criminals. Bruzek states that his client believed he was legally justified to attack these people and later apologized.
"Michael understands how his conduct could have resulted in a much more serious and harmful situation," Bruzek said.
While it appears the Johnson County Attorney’s Office was able to find empathy and compassion for this man, it's still reportedly pursuing charges against Black Lives Matters protestors involved in the demonstration.