Man accused of driving into protesters placed in mental health diversion program, criminal case suspended

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man accused of driving into a crowd of protesters in downtown Bakersfield has been placed in a mental health diversion program and criminal proceedings against him have been suspended.

Michael Tran was found eligible for the program Tuesday after he was evaluated by Kern Behavioral Health’s Adult Transition Team, said Joseph Kinzel, spokesman for the District Attorney’s office. The program requires compliance with the terms of mental health providers and staying out of legal trouble during the two-year diversion term.

“Failure to comply with the terms of the diversion, or the commission of a new crime, are grounds for exclusion from the program,” Kinzel said. “If excluded, the criminal case would resume where it left off.”

There will be regular updates where the court will determine if Tran has remained in compliance. The next hearing is scheduled Nov. 20.

Tran, 31 at the time, drove a Toyota RAV4 into people protesting the death of George Floyd on May 29, according to court documents. No serious injuries were reported in the incident, which was captured on surveillance footage and cellphone cameras.

Tran’s family told investigators he had stopped taking medicine for mental health issues, documents said. It said his behavior had changed in recent months. Following his arrest, Tran made a number of bizarre statements to police, telling officers he needed to bury bodies and he believed his family was dead.

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