Family says man charged with driving into crowd of protesters had stopped taking medication for mental health issues: reports

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The family of a man charged with 10 counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with driving into a crowd of protesters said he stopped taking medication for mental health issues months before the incident, court documents say.

Police said in the documents that the medicine Michael Tran stopped taking is used to treat certain mental disorders, and is sometimes prescribed to patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder symptoms.

Tran, 31, acted strangely after officers arrested him May 29 for allegedly driving a Toyota RAV4 into a crowd of people who took to Truxtun Avenue to protest the death of George Floyd, according to the documents.

No serious injuries were reported.

Asked why he drove doughnuts in an intersection with a crowd of people and on the wrong way of the street, Tran responded, “because he is stupid,” police said in the documents.

Then while at the Kern County Jail, Tran kept repeating he needed to bury bodies and that he believed his family was dead, the documents say. He also said he wanted to kill himself and “make everything right.”

“I believe that Tran used his vehicle as a weapon knowing that the vehicle is likely to cause great bodily injury,” an investigator wrote in the court filings. “Tran displayed erratic behavior by stopping to interact with the protesters and then drive at unsafe speed into pedestrians.”

“I believe that Tran knew his actions could cause death to pedestrians who were struck by the vehicle,” the investigator wrote.

Family members of Tran told police they’d been trying to get him help, but he kept refusing and said he was OK. They said his behavior had changed in recent months, and that he had thrown water and coffee at people inside the residence.

Surveillance footage shows Tran first showed up in the area of Truxtun Avenue and Eye Street at 5:49 p.m., according to court filings. For the next hour, he drives around the area, engages in verbal altercations and at times does doughnuts in intersections.

He drives into the crowd of protesters at 6:50 p.m., the documents say.

Tran has pleaded not guilty and is held on $1 million bail. He is next due in court July 16.

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