Jeffrey Ray Adams and the Santa Monica road rage case — call it Dr. Thompson lite

View of collision site shows how hard driver had to turn to cross center median; photo courtesy of Steve Herbert

Some of you have wondered why I haven’t written about the Santa Monica road rage assault that took place one week ago Thursday, other than a brief link earlier in the week.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.

I first became aware of this case on Saturday morning when a reader named Joy forwarded an email that had been sent to members of the Conejo Valley Cyclists.

In it, the author — who I won’t identify, since he hasn’t been publicly named by other news sources for reasons that escape me— told his side of the incident that occurred on Barnard Way on the evening of August 25th.

He described an ongoing dispute that continued as he rode down the street, as an angry driver repeatedly cut him off, gesturing and swearing. The rider responded by swerving into the paved median area, planning to pass the driver on the left when the car stopped for a stop sign. Instead, the driver, Jeffrey Ray Adams, cut sharply to the left across the rider’s path, causing a collision — apparently intentionally, in an incident all too reminiscent of the infamous Mandeville Canyon case.

Then to make matters worse, Adams continued to threaten the victim, as well as bystanders who intervened to protect him, in a video capturing the events that followed the collision.

I immediately reached out to both the victim and to Sgt. Thomas McLaughlin, the Santa Monica Police Department’s new liaison to the cycling community — sort of like LAPD Sgt. Krumer, but taller and closer to the coast.

Sgt. McLaughlin responded quickly to let me know he was off that day, but would pull the file the following day (Sunday) and get back to me.

As for the rider, I never heard back.

Which is odd, since he followed up on his first email with another directed to some 30 recipients, including members of the LACBC, Los Angeles Times and Santa Monica City Council, among others, asking them to report the story and demanding justice.

Note to cyclists: If you want someone to tell your story, trying responding to emails offering to do just that. Just a hint.

Meanwhile, Mihai Peteu of Bikeside broke the story later that night, with a link to the same information that Sgt. McLaughlin had offered to pull for me the next day. His story provided the name of the driver, as well as reporting that Adams had been booked on a charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon and released on $30,000 bail.

Sgt. McLaughlin confirmed that Bikeside’s story contained all the relevant information he would have been able to give me from the incident report. And since Mihai had already reported everything I knew — and even turned the You Tube video the right way — I was more than willing to let them run with it.

Meanwhile, the story was soon picked up by the Santa Monica Mirror, LookOut News, Santa Monica Daily Press and L.A. Weekly. Although the first, and best, of news report came in a detailed story from the Canyon News.

Which meant that there was really no point in writing about it until I had something to add.

Which is, simply, this.

While cyclists are justified in their outrage over this dangerous and deliberate assault, this is not another Mandeville Canyon, despite the similarities.

In that case, the driver jammed his brakes directly in front of two riders, resulting in serious injuries to both, simply because they were in his way. Then the Good Doctor, who made his living treating trauma victims like the two he had just created, stuck around expecting a pat on the head from the responding officers. And was shocked to find himself cuffed in the back of a patrol car, because he’d gotten away with it before.

In this case, there was an ongoing dispute between the driver and cyclist; what started it, we have no idea. Although the rider’s initial email suggests the driver may have simply been pissed off to find himself stuck behind a cyclist on a road too narrow to allow passing, even though said rider said he was traveling at the 25 mph speed limit at the time.

But despite the outrageousness of the driver’s attack in turning directly into the path of the rider — then repeatedly claiming the rider hit his car and trying to goad witnesses into a fight — the bottom line is that the cyclist apparently suffered only minor injuries.

Or at least, what’s considered minor under the law. And under California law, that makes the crime a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. Even if his $3,000 bike was totaled.

Which is why Adams was out on just $30,000 bail within hours of his arrest.

The incident is still under investigation. And chances are, Adams will end up facing charges; his actions were clearly deliberate, there were too many witnesses and he made far too many stupid statements in front of a camera.

Unfortunately, it’s not against the law to be an idiot.

Or a jerk.

Then again, if it was, I could have faced my third strike years ago.

Whether he’ll do any time is another matter. Especially considering that Jaclyn Andrea Garcia is looking at just one year in jail — or in reality, six months or less — for nearly killing a cyclist while driving drunk, despite being underage.

And writing every council member in the City of Santa Monica won’t make a damn bit of difference.

What will make a difference, for other riders who find themselves in similar situations — and no, this is not the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last — is to get yourself out of it. Whatever it takes.

I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to have an angry driver behind you. Or in this case, in front of you.

Or beside you, for that matter.

So when a driver rages, pull over and let him pass. Or take the next turn and go a different way, as I did recently in a similar situation just blocks from where this happened.

And no, it wasn’t the same guy. Which means there are at least two of them out there roaming the streets of Santa Monica.

It’s not always easy. But it’s just not worth it to confront a threatening driver armed with a multi-ton four-wheeled weapon of mass destruction.

Especially now that the newly passed L.A. cyclist anti-harassment ordinance will become law on Monday. Not that it would help in Santa Monica, of course.

Just take down the license or grab a photo if you can, note any other details, and get the hell out of the way.

And never, ever flip off the driver behind you.

Trust me on that one.

16 comments

  1. iWillbike says:

    Thanks for the update Ted. I really can’t get my head around the cyclist not wanting to get his story out there, unless he in some way instigated or escalated the situation.

  2. JenniX says:

    Civil court cases generally go better if the plaintiff isn’t easily made to look opportunistic or outrageous. My guess is the cyclist got a lawyer who told him to stop talking to anyone about the case.

    • bikinginla says:

      That’s entirely possible. Both of the emails I saw were sent on Friday; by Saturday, he may have chosen to keep quiet for whatever reason.

  3. Digital Dame says:

    Well, I still think it’s a very good parallel with Thompson and Mandeville Canyon. The fact that it didn’t actually end in serious injury for the rider is pure luck, nothing more. The intent to cause it was certainly there. I’m sure the driver expected the entire city to stand behind him and tell him he was justified in nearly exterminating a cyclist.

  4. Mihai says:

    The same “get-off-MY-road” attitude is present here, we are just lucky to have this occur on a flat road instead of a fast descent…

    The injury caused by the driver was premeditated in both this and the Mandeville incident, it’s hard to tell which of the two perpetrators intended to do the most harm. Could be that both let their hormones get ahead of them and didn’t realize what the consequences of their actions could be.

    • bikinginla says:

      I have a feeling you’re right. I think in most of these cases, the drivers are acting out of anger without considering the consequences. Which in some ways, is even scarier.

  5. jeff dahmer says:

    if you watched the video, Jeffrey had some cute bitch tits !

  6. Andrew says:

    UPDATE – Jeffrey Adams is being brought up on Felony Charges by the LA DA – Next court appearance is scheduled for Dec 13, 2011

  7. dcole says:

    Why don’t you let your readers know that during the altercation prior to the accident, the bicyclist was yelling, swearing, threatening and kicking and hitting the car while traveling down the street, NO wonder the driver was pissed. This is not a automobile rage incident, this is a bicylcist rage incident.

    • bikinginla says:

      I haven’t discussed the actions of the cyclist because no one has stepped forward to share Adams’ side of the story.

      What we’ve seen on the You Tube video and read in the press is the end of the story; no one as yet has publicly shared how and why this altercation began, or what took place as it continued down the street. I’ve long suspected there is more to the story, but have no way of knowing what really happened before the camera started rolling.

      If you have actual information about this event, you’re more than welcome to share it with me; you can find my email address on the About page.

      However, bear in mind that regardless of what happened prior to the collision, Adams is accused of a disproportionate use of force, in effect assaulting the victim with a deadly weapon. Using his car in that way is no different than if he had pulled out a gun and shot the rider. There can be no argument that such a level of violence was justified, no matter what had preceded it.

    • phil says:

      There was no evidence in the police reports or by the third party witnesses that support these statements of cyclist rage. In fact, the opposite.

  8. phil says:

    Jeffrey Ray Adams was held over for two felony charges, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Intent to Cause Great Bodily Harm at the LA County Airport Court house on January 20, 2012.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks Phil. I mentioned the preliminary hearing briefly here (scroll down), with a longer report on the charges here.

      • phil says:

        According to evidence at the preliminary hearing, the cyclist was not touching the car and the cyclist said less than 10 words to the driver in the confrontation that lasted less than 20 seconds over 300 feet of roadway. The cyclist asked the driver why he cut him off and Adam’s responded by flipping off the cyclist, the cyclist responded by telling the driver to put his hands back in his pants and then Adam’s responded by taking out the cyclist when the cyclist tried to ride away. Witnesses say Adam’s yelled “no passing.”. It appears the cyclist did nothing egregious.

  9. PT1 says:

    Where did this net out? I’d been following this closely but found no information. Was he convicted or did he plea? Sentencing?

    • bikinginla says:

      According to a comment from Phil on a later update to this story, Jeffrey Ray Adams pled no contest to Assault with A Deadly Weapon, and was placed on three years felony probation, along with 20 days of labor and successful completion of an anger management program.

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