Update — LAPD drops, then reopens investigation into Pinkyracer case, blaming the victim for her injuries

According to KNBC-4, the LAPD has closed its investigation into the road rage assault of cyclist Susanna Schick. And shifted all the blame for the incident onto the victim.

Based on the descriptions of two on-duty officers who claimed to have seen the whole thing — yet remarkably, failed to do anything to prevent it — Schick merely fell over, resulting in numerous broken bones as well as a significant concussion.

According to police spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon, speed may have been a factor in the collision, noting that Schick is a long-time motorcycle racer.

Yet she wasn’t riding a motorcycle on Friday night. And the severity of her injuries are inconsistent with a solo fall from a bike; even at high speed, she’s unlikely to have suffered six broken ribs and broken her pelvis in three places in a fall on level ground. Let alone been knocked cold for upwards of 15 minutes, despite wearing a helmet.

The fact that she has raced motorcycles is entirely irrelevant to this investigation.

Excuse me, former investigation.

Yes, it’s possible that she suffered such severe injuries in a simple fall.

But it is so far from likely that to ignore them suggests a desire on the part of police to just close the books and get this case over with.

As of now, no one other than the officers at the scene have examined Schick’s bike for evidence of a collision that might be beyond the ability of a patrol officer untrained in bike collision investigations to spot. And to the best of my knowledge, no one at the department has made any effort to contact the driver of the Lexus to get his side of the story.

If they had, he might have denied everything. Or he may have blurted out, as did the infamous Good Doctor, that he was just trying to teach her a lesson.

We’ll never know, because the department has inexplicably closed the investigation without apparently bothering to talk to him.

Then there’s Lt. Vernon’s apparent attempt to discredit the victim, suggesting that Schick may have been drinking — despite failing to present evidence to support that.

… He also questioned whether she had been drinking, and said officers could have insisted on a blood test at the hospital.

Yes, they could have requested a blood alcohol test at the hospital, but apparently didn’t. They also could have requested a virginity test, but failed to do that, as well.

It’s entirely possible that Susanna Schick had a drink or two — or maybe 20 — before riding home on Friday night. There’s clearly no shortage of bars Downtown where she might have stopped.

But given that she lives just a few blocks from where the incident unfolded, she could have just as easily been on her way home from church, a movie or an AA meeting.

If the police have any evidence that she’d been drinking, they failed to produce it.

As I’ve said before, we have no way of knowing what really happened that night. Maybe the police are right, and she was the aggressor in the road rage dispute, then simply fell off her bike.

Or maybe they’ve once again let a dangerous driver off the hook, as they did when they accused Andres Tena of riding his bike backwards into a Hummer, or cyclists of milling in the middle of a dark street waiting for a driver to mow them down.

I’m not, as a friend of mine accused me, accusing the police of lying.

I would sincerely like to believe that, from their perspective at least, they have followed the evidence and come to what they believe is the right conclusion, however much I may disagree with it. And however repugnant it may be to speculate that the victim may have been drunk without offering evidence to support it.

But to me, this appears to continue the same old windshield perspective, anti-bike bias that Los Angeles cyclists, and cyclists throughout the U.S. — and around the world, for that matter — have fought for years.

And which I thought was finally gone for good thanks to a bike friendly mayor, and the efforts of LAPD Chief Beck, Sgt. David Krumer and the bike community members of the LAPD Bike Task Force.

This investigation may be over as far as the police are concerned.

But that doesn’t mean it passes the smell test.

Update: Evidently, someone at LAPD headquarters doesn’t think it passes the smell test, either.

According to KNBC-4, the department is reopening the investigation, just hours after they reported the case had been closed. 

Police are reopening the investigation into what caused a cyclist to severely injure herself Friday night as a potential aggravated assault case, citing growing community concern and a second interview with the 42-year-old cyclist Susanna Schick.

Must have been some interview. Or maybe it’s thanks to KPCC’s Patt Morrison, who questioned LAPD Chief Beck about the case in an on-air interview Wednesday afternoon.

Of course, they don’t say who is suspected of the assault. The way this case is going, it wouldn’t surprise me if they charged Schick with assaulting the Lexus.

This case is starting to look more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than a serious police investigation.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton says the department’s conclusion — or previous conclusion, at least — in the case strains credibility.

You could say that.

Either the department has badly bungled this investigation, or they have conducted the one of the worst public relations exercises in recent memory.

Or both.

In less than a week, the credibility of the department has been badly eroded within the cycling community. 

In fact, I’ve received messages from dozens of cyclists questioning just who was in that white Lexus, and whether some members of the department are trying to protect them.

Yes, it sounds crazy.

Then again, so does everything else about this case.

39 comments

  1. You make it sound as if the police have the lexus drivers contact info… Do they? I’m just trying to clarify. Because, if so, I will not stop complaining about this to the police. Thanks.

  2. Noway Jose says:

    Given the rather bizarre claims of the police, my guess would be that you’ll find a white lexus with matching plate parked at the nearest police station on a daily basis.

    • The Trickster says:

      Indeed… from way down here this all has the unique stink of the ‘Blue Code of Silence’ about it.

  3. Mike says:

    If she had been signficantly impaired by alcohol consumption, it is likely that either the police or the medical emergency responders would have smelled alcohol on her breath. As far as I’ve read, no one has said that. Bottom line, there’s a complete and utter lack of evidence for any claim of alcohol impairment.

  4. Andy says:

    Show us what the bike looked like after the incident and I can tell you in 2 seconds if it was a solo fall or being struck by a car.

  5. Sgt. David Krumer says:

    Hello all,

    I don’t know at what time the article was written, but as of about 11:45 am when I spoke to Lt Vernon, the “injury” report was reclassified as a “crime” report and we should be proceeding accordingly. As of my discussion the case was open…I suppose the case may hav been closed since then. I will updat everyone when I get in tomorrow morning.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks David. KNBC-4 now reports that the case has been reopened as an aggravated assault investigation, after having been closed earlier in the day.

      However, unless Lt. Vernon has solid evidence that Susanna Schick had been drinking prior to this incident, he owes her a public apology for what appears to be unsupported speculation that could seriously tarnish her reputation.

      • Sgt. David Krumer says:

        Absent any evidence that alcohol was a factor I would agree with you that unsubstantiated speculation is inappropriate.

    • Sgt. Krumer, I am astonished to see answers to news questions coming from more than one LA police officer that simply falling off of a bike would be the cause for a rider to end up in a intensive care unit due to multiple broken bones ranging from several places on her pelvic area, a fourth of her ribs, the collarbone and a concussion to her head. Falling off of a bicycle would be very unlikely to produce such a great amount of trauma to a healthy adult body.

      To read news reports that two police officers claimed to have witnessed this happening in this manner is even more flabbergasting. Just as with damage to a car from a collision, the condition of the bicycle after this incident would give circumstantial evidence of what occured. A rear bicycle wheel out of true by a half of a inch is unlikely to be ridden by the person just before the collision. A rear bicycle wheel getting out of true to this amount by the rider simply falling over is also very unlikely. Usually, this would produce little damage at all to the rear wheel.

      • Sgt. David Krumer says:

        Hi Dennis,

        While our personal experiences may tell us that these injuries do not happen from a fall as was reported…I am certainly not a doctor, physicist or subject matter experts who can rule out that possibility. Perhaps there is a better word to convey how Suanna ended up on the pavement rather than the more ambiguous and generic term “fall.” Rather than focus on terminology though I would instead like to address the officers examination (or lack thereof) of the bicycle. Since officers observed what they perceived to be a single party injury, no examination of the bike would take place as there is no investigation to be done. Luckily the bicycle was preserved and taken to Susanna’s home and is available for examination.

        • Hi Sgt. Krumer,

          I have to admit that neither falling from a bike at 18 miles an hour or getting hit by a car from behind at that speed would necessarily break any bones.

          I was hit by a car from behind while riding a bicycle in the range of 18 miles an hour and no bones were broken. I fell backwards and slid, with my head ending up underneath the car bumper. Much of the energy of my forward motion was absorbed by the friction from sliding on the pavement. However, if my upper body slammed into the pavement with most of that energy from the forward motion, then I could have had multiple fractures on different bones in my torso or arms.

          I also ran into the side of a car that turned in front of me while I was riding a bike at about 22 miles an hour. The front wheel of the bike absorbed some of that impact and then the brunt of the force to my body went into my shoulder. I ended up with just a broken collarbone. A car body is much less rigid than a street, so in this instance the rear quarter panel bent under the impact and absorbed some of the energy.

          So, there is a possibility that Susanna Schick slammed face first into the pavement if she simply fell of her bike. That’s not a common occurance when a cyclist falls, but it is in the realm of possibility.

  6. James Duggan says:

    Why waste so much time on such a minor incident? We have all seen these bicyclists ride with reckless abandon and a complete disregard for the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike, and their voluntary compliance with the vehicle code is sporadic, at best. I say, “Take a hike, grow up and get a life!!”

    • How does a bicyclist endanger the safety of motorists? Or for that matter, how can a bicyclist have a “complete disregard for the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike.”?Ending up in a trama unit is a minor incident? Stating a all inclusive “We have all seen..” Or stating “these bicyclists” is jumping to a all inclusive conclusion from a few examples. If you ride a bicycle your automatically in this all inclusive group, or do you just pick out these incidents and jump to this conclusion?

      “Take a hike, grow up and get a life!!” Congratulations! Three cliches in a row.

  7. Mike says:

    Last night Warren Oleny had a story on KCRW about conflicts between bicycles and vehicles in L.A. (including frustrations with the LAPD) at http://www.kcrw.com/media-player/mediaPlayer2.html?type=audio&id=ww120411bicyclists_vs_motori starting at about 7:50 and ending at about 21:00. The interviewees include Sgt. Krummer. It discusses this case.

  8. Mike says:

    Here’s another piece of evidence I hadn’t seen before. According to an MSNBC story posted about a half hour ago, “[Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Paul] Vernon said speed may have been a factor. Police said Schick told them she looked at her spedometer right before the crash and was traveling at 18 mph, Vernon said.” ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47020259/ns/local_news-los_angeles_ca/ )

    Eighteen mph is not slow, but it’s not particularly “speed.” Having a solo accident at that speed (and I have) very well might result in some significant injuries, including contusions, scrapes, and perhaps a broken bone. An accident at that speed, however, is very unlikely to cause a broken collarbone, six broken ribs, a pelvis that was shattered or broken in three places (the stories seem to differ), and a concussion.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks Mike. You’re right; while 18 mph may seem fast to a non-road cyclist, it’s hardly enough to account for her injuries.

      The article also notes that LAPD Lt. Vernon now says alcohol did not play a part in Schick’s fall. It would be nice if the department offered a formal apology after smearing her a day earlier.

  9. If anyone has forgotten, or does not know what happens when you fall off a bike when you hit something, here’s a video with several examples:

    This video was made in one day.

    It was purpported that just before the incident Susanna Schick glanced at her bike computer which indicated she was moving at 18 miles an hour. I ran into the side of a car at about that speed and ended up with just a broken collarbone. Susanna would likely have had to have been hurled to the street with a good deal of force in order to get this many broken bones in her upper torso.

  10. Ed head says:

    The video is pretty clear. She blew a red light and then crashed. Cyclists have to pick there battles this makes us all look bad

    • bikinginla says:

      Pretty amazing that you can see all that from security camera footage from the 200 block of Spring, when she fell two and a half blocks away, Ed. Especially when everything you just described is well out of the camera view.

      And if fighting for the truth makes us look bad, then I will gladly go to my grave ugly as hell.

      • Mike says:

        Is the security video you guys are talking about available on line?

        • bikinginla says:

          You can see it here on the Times’ update.

          • PC says:

            There are two videos on the Times page. The one on top is a ten second video clip clearly showing a car swing wide into the bike lane on Spring, nearly taking a cyclist (presumably Schick) out. The second “video” at the bottom, which is really more of a series of grainy still photographs taken one second apart, doesn’t seem to show much of anything. Serious question: am I missing something vital in that second video? All I see is, at the beginning, a cyclist turn the corner at the top right of the frame and then seem to disappear. Is that supposed to be Schick, and are we to presume that she disappears from view because she has fallen?

            • bikinginla says:

              If you look very, very carefully in the background, you’ll see a car pull out of a parking garage on the left about 10 seconds in; presumably, that’s the Lexus in dispute.

            • PC says:

              Ah, OK. So then the title that The Times gave the video–“Security video of bike accident”–is, to put it politely, not quite on the mark then. We still don’t have any video of the actual accident. And what we see in the beginning is S.S. turning south on to Spring from 2nd.

            • bikinginla says:

              You got it.

  11. Truth says:

    HAAHHA she was trying to seek attention LOL

    just close the case, and open a new one up to arrest her for falsifying all of this up.

  12. TQ says:

    I spoke with a witness earlier this evening who was very clear that the impact had not occurred as a right hook at the corner of Fifth & Spring, as I’d suspected, since Fifth is a westbound one-way street.

    Wherever Schick was hit, her body landed in the green lane on the north side of the break for the driveway for Joe’s Parking. The cop car then BACKED UP to return to the victim.

    The cops didn’t swing back around to drive up to the victim in oncoming traffic lanes. They didn’t stop because she’d fallen ahead of their vehicle (which the witness confirmed was marked). They hit reverse and BACKED UP.

    If the LAPD has eyes in back of its head like that, it certainly doesn’t need video surveillance. I just hope to God none of that video goes missing.

  13. [...] Comments Section on the Schick Case at Biking In L.A. with LAPD Sgt. David [...]

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