A 45-year-old white man who deliberately drove his car through a crowd of racial injustice protesters in Iowa City, Iowa last summer will avoid prison and have his record cleared if he stays out of trouble for the next three years.
In August of last year, Michael Ray Stepanek drove his 1998 Toyota Camry through a group of protesters, injuring at least one person, according to police.
Stepanek was charged with one count of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon and one count of willful injury causing bodily harm, a class D felony.
He told police he drove his car into the crowd because they needed an “attitude adjustment.” He spent 76 days in jail before he was released.
According to court filings, Judge Paul Miller dismissed the first charge, deferred the second and suspended a $1,025 civil fine.
The sentence means the felony charge of willful injury resulting in bodily injury against Stepanek will be dismissed and expunged, as long as he does not commit a crime during a three-year term of probation.
Stepanek’s attorney John Bruzek, said in a statement that his client was “remorseful” for his actions.
Saying Stepanek was influenced by social media and political rhetoric characterizing the protesters as “criminal, thugs, terrorists.” Stepanek initially believed he was legally justified but has come to see he was wrong and apologized, Bruzek said.
“He apologizes for his conduct and to those he harmed. Michael is being held to account with a full and clear recognition of how much worse things may have been,” the statement said.
Bruzek said he believes that Stepanek received a “meaningful and just sentence.”
“The court gave Michael an opportunity to prove himself during a statutory term of probation and expects him to be a decent person and that he not conduct himself like he did. If Michael doesn’t, the court will have the opportunity to convict him and take away the deferred,” Bruzek said.