After a giddy few hours, reality is sinking in.
Monday afternoon, the jury in the Mandeville Canyon case returned a verdict far beyond the wildest hopes of most cyclists. Dr. Christopher Thompson was found guilty on all seven counts of the indictment.
According to a comment from Eric, it breaks down like this:
He was convicted of the following: 2 counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon (245a), 2 counts of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury (243d), reckless driving (23103a), Reckless driving causing specified injury (23105a), and Mayhem (203).
He was cuffed and taken into custody immediately. As quoted in the Times, Asst. District Attorney Mary Stone put it this way:
“There’s not a cyclist in Los Angeles who would feel comfortable with this defendant out on the road after this verdict,” Stone told the court.
Jared Shier notes that six of the seven counts were felonies, with the only misdemeanor involving the incident with Watson and Crosby. Now the Good Doctor faces up to 10 years in prison for the infamous Mandeville Canyon Brake Check.
Of course, the exact sentence depends on the judge. He could take Thompson’s lifetime of healing into account, along with the fact that it was his first conviction — though his third alleged offense — and decide to be lenient.
Or he could take the previous incidents and the seriousness of the crime into account, and levy the maximum penalty. We’ll find out in about a month, with sentencing scheduled for December 3rd.
Then the inevitable appeals will begin; how much time he actually ends up serving is anyone’s guess.
One thing that is a near certainty is that this will cost the Good Doctor his medical license. And that’s a tragedy, not just for him, but for all those people he could have helped — if only he could have kept his anger in check.
On the other hand, he could be the world’s greatest ER physician, but like Peterson and Stoehr, I wouldn’t want him to touch me, either.
Even though, for once, a handful of cyclists received the full support and protection of the legal system, this entire event was a tragedy. Two cyclists were severely injured, three others threatened. And an otherwise good man, by all accounts, let his frustration and anger boil over until he used his car as a weapon, sending two total strangers to the hospital. And tearing his own life and family to shreds.
And there’s a lesson in that for all of us, cyclists and drivers alike.
All of us in the local cycling community owe a big round of thanks to the LAPD and the District Attorney’s office — and especially to Mary Stone for what was, by all accounts, a powerful and effective prosecution.
And I personally want to give a huge thank you to DJwheels, without whom it would not have been possible to cover this case in such detail. Danny, I owe you one — big time. Best wishes to you and your fiancé on your upcoming wedding.
But this is just one case. As DJwheels notes, there are at least five other cases working their way through the system in which cyclists were the victims — including the Rod Armas and Joseph Novotny cases, in which cyclists on group rides were killed by hit-and-run drunk drivers.
Then there’s the case of DJwheels own fiancé, who was injured when a group of riders were threatened by an aggressive driver who fled the scene; thank God, she had a far better outcome. Which probably explains why he worked so hard keeping up with this case.
Finally, let’s just remember to be careful out there, especially for the next few days. And try to keep those words and gestures to a minimum.
As happy as we are over the verdict, there are those in the four wheel community who are just as angry about it, and they’re armed with 2,000 pound potential weapons.
And as the Good Doctor clearly illustrated, some people aren’t afraid to use them.
In light of the Mandeville Canyon case, the L.A. Times asks if we can all share the road, along with advice on how to ride safely — and for a change, looks at it from a safe driving perspective, as well. And Damien Newton looks at the Times series, and what they left out.
Dr. Alex offers 12 principles for a more effective bike plan, while Stephen Box imagines what the city could be like if the mayor rode a bike. Joe Linton looks at the new Fletcher Drive undercross on the L.A. River bikeway. Do more bikes mean more — and more severe — injuries? San Francisco prepares to move forward with their bike plan. The San Jose Mercury News takes a look at the problem of right hooks — like the one that almost hit me yesterday. Floyd Landis suspects his Tour dreams are over. Following the Texas governor’s bone-headed veto of that state’s bike safety law, Austin passes their own three-foot passing law. Bob Mionske reminds riders about the need for lights and reflectors. Beirut goes Critical Mass. New Zealand suspects a local hit-and-run driver may be targeting cyclists, while some drivers are going “berko over bisychos.” Maybe the world’s standard for bike sharing isn’t working so well after all. Finally, from my old home town, a fascinating in-depth, 18-month examination of bike/car crashes throughout the city, mapping out where and how they occurred; this should be a model for every city — including ours.