LAPD reportedly dismisses hit-and-run in Pinkyracer case — in the middle of an ongoing investigation

Today we saw a turn of events so credibility straining it would get most Hollywood screenwriters fired.

And that’s not exactly a group known for believability.

An exchange of emails with LAPD Sgt. David Krumer shed light on the investigation into last Friday’s traffic incident that left Susanna Schick, aka Pinkyracer, broken and bruised in the ICU of a local hospital. Yet still raised as many questions as it answered.

And then it got strange.

Sgt. Krumer, the department’s highly respected liaison to the cycling community, had been out of the city through the holiday weekend, returning to his desk Tuesday morning. And was forced to immediately jump into the controversy surrounding the Schick case.

He reported that, contrary to earlier information, the LAPD did respond to the collision, and that a report was taken.

He said that the police were actually on the scene before the paramedics arrived, and that they were the ones who had called for an ambulance. And in fact, the officers were the ones who dropped Schick’s bike off at her home, rather than the paramedics as we had previously been told.

He said that there were conflicting reports that a collision had occurred, so the investigators were looking for video evidence to confirm exactly what had happened.

According to Krumer, the police also tried to interview Schick at the scene; perhaps due to the confusion caused by her injuries, she didn’t say anything about a collision. He said police would try to re-interview her again to clarify the situation.

It’s also possible that Schick doesn’t remember the collision itself due to her concussion; nearly four years later, I still have no memory of the solo fall that put me in the ICU.

He hinted that he had more information that would explain everything, but was prohibited from releasing it due to the ongoing investigation.

If only everyone else had such high standards.

Friends of Schick report that two detectives did in fact stop by to interview her in her hospital room — although interview might not be the best way to describe it. Instead, I’m told they put in at least as much effort trying to convince her she was wrong about the hit-and-run as they did asking what actually happened.

Then Tuesday morning, reports started to leak from police headquarters indicating that Schick wasn’t hit by a car after all; apparently there were witnesses who could discredit her entire story.

Witnesses in blue, no less.

And members of the department wasted no time in releasing the information Sgt. Krumer was prohibited from sharing.

I guess ongoing investigations don’t count when the department’s reputation is at stake.

I first heard rumors that a female detective was leaking information that Schick’s wreck had been witnessed by two officers who reportedly saw the entire event, and that they were the ones who called for the paramedics.

And they denied that any hit-and-run had occurred. Or that there was even another car involved in her fall.

By afternoon, a police spokesman was speaking to Blogdowntown on the record. LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon denied anything illegal had happened.

“There’s a great deal of discrepancy,” Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department said. “There is no crime here. She fell down on her bicycle.”

Remarkably, the police claimed that an experienced cyclist simply fell down. And somehow suffered multiple broken bones, as well as a shattered helmet, despite what would have been a relatively slow speed impact.

Blogdowntown reports that there is no dispute that the previously described white Lexus pulled out of a parking garage and swerved into the bike lane Schick was riding in on the opposite side of the street.

According to the report filed by the two officers who claim to have witnessed the events, Schick pedaled up to the car at the next red light, hit the passenger side mirror and started yelling at the people inside; the people in the car responded by rolling up their windows.

The officers said Schick continued riding for another block or two before the car turned right, and she simply began wobbling on her bike before falling over.

This semi-official version of events raises a lot of questions.

Not the least of which is why two police officers would witness a car serving across the entire width of a roadway and into a marked bike lane, jeopardizing the safety of a cyclist riding in it, and do absolutely nothing.

Repeat, nothing.

Which is exactly what they did when allegedly following an ongoing roadway dispute, even after they supposedly witnessed a cyclist striking a motor vehicle in anger.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t that have been the time to light up the reds and stop both parties before the situation escalated?

Now, it’s entirely possible that Schick did strike the car’s mirror to get the attention of the people inside. I’ve slapped fenders, trunks and windows for the same reason, as it can be almost impossible to get the attention of music blasting, cell phone-using drivers these days.

And so far, no one has mentioned whether the officers had an unobstructed view of the situation. Schick has stated that the car followed her for at least a block, possibly in the bike lane itself —which would be yet another violation the officers failed to address, and which would have obscured the view of anyone following behind.

It’s possible, if not likely, that the Lexus could have hit Schick’s bike before or during its turn without the impact being visible to the police officers who supposedly saw everything.

It’s also possible that the car might have caused her fall without ever actually coming into contact with her bike. Which would still qualify as hit-and-run if it could be determined that the driver’s actions directly contributed to the wreck.

And the Department’s version of events fails to explain why, if a police report was filed over the weekend, no one in the department seemed to know anything about it on Monday morning. Or even knew a crash had occurred.

I’m not saying the police are wrong.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know what actually happened.

And they were — even if the information released so far doesn’t exactly add up.

But if the department is going to release information about an ongoing investigation, they need to be a lot more honest and open about it. And explain the apparent discrepancies in what we’ve heard so far, rather than falling over themselves to blame the victim.

Unfortunately, Schick’s bike may not be much help.

As it turns out, the supposedly tacoed rear wheel is actually a relatively minor bend. While it could still offer evidence of an impact, it may take an expert examination to determine exactly how it got that way.

Something else the police have yet to do, despite concluding that no impact occurred.

Meanwhile, the LACBC is calling for the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles to devote more resources halting the epidemic of hit-and-run; even if this turns out not to be one, drivers flee the scene in a full one-third of all L.A. collisions.

And writing on Streetsblog, Damien Newton calls on the LAPD to train a group of officers in the physics of bike and pedestrian crashes, so maybe in the future they can fairly assess blame without resorting to blaming the victims.

I couldn’t agree more.

But let me leave you with one final thought.

The LAPD investigators say they’ve ruled out hit-and-run, even though they’re still in the middle of an ongoing investigation. And despite continuing to look for video evidence or examining other physical that could prove that premature conclusion wrong.

So just how fair, open and honest can we really expect that investigation to be when, they’ve already announced the outcome in advance?

For a department that offers firearm training for all its officers, they certainly seem to have shot themselves in the foot.

38 comments

  1. 1blue1 says:

    Can anyone (other than LAPD) determine if any security videos in the neighborhood, recorded anything of the collision, before they are destroyed or written over? If any of those security videos did record anything, most of us would like to know what they have to tell us. It does not sound like LAPD would have any interest.

    • Kim says:

      I agree. Someone from PinkyRacer’s team needs to canvas those businesses near the intersection and get rolling on that soon. For all we know, the LAPD already took them into “evidence” never to be seen again. Lawyers need to get moving on that if they haven’t already.

      • bikinginla says:

        My understanding is that a couple of groups other than the LAPD are already using their contacts to look into those videos.

  2. Kim says:

    Great writing. All excellent points. The LAPD has some splainin’ to do.

  3. There’s already a cyclist/lawyer on the case; I myself asked him to look for video from establishments along the area. I also asked LACBC, whose offices are less than two blocks from 4th & spring, to do so separately.

  4. Opus the Poet says:

    Something is seriously off on this. Pinkyracer is an experienced bicycle and motorcycle racer, her “losing control” and falling off is only slightly more likely than Pres. Santorum. And even so the injuries she got would require a high speed impact or an impact with a large, fixed object. I don’t recall any large, fixed objects in the bike lane from the Google Street View of the wreck area, perhaps some were recently installed?

  5. Chris says:

    I was with you until the whole “it’s ok to hit a car” a thing. As a driver nothing infuriates me more than when someone makes contact with my vehicle and it’s not an emergency. Of course that doesn’t give the driver any right to hit a bicyclist. But if the lexus did something inappropriate, coming up to it and then smacking the rear view window is not the proper response. If I see a bicyclist running a red signal is it ok for me to follow it to the next signal and then kick their tires?

    • bikinginla says:

      I never said it was okay to hit a car; I said I’ve done it before, and it was credible that Susanna Schick may have done it as well.

      Circumstances differ. I’ve been in situations where I had to slap a fender or window to tell a driver I was there because I was about to get run over. I’ve also tapped a car to get a driver’s attention so I could tell them a brake light was out or a woman’s skirt was hanging out the door. And admittedly, I’ve done it to get a driver’s attention after nearly getting run off the road and wanted to give the driver a piece of my mind.

      Personally, I see it as no different than knocking on a door to talk to the person inside. But whether it’s right or wrong would seem to depend on why someone is doing it.

      Clearly, though, in this case, the police are attempting to paint Schick as the aggressor for tapping the car’s mirror, ignoring the dangerous swerve that put her safety in jeopardy.

      • Erik G. says:

        Smacking a car can be considered to be felony assault or felony vandalism. Why wouldn’t any cops on scene immediately move to stop the incident right there and detain or even arrest Schick?

        • bikinginla says:

          Why indeed. They seem to have ignored a number of violations, starting with the car’s wide swerve out of the parking lot, which sounds like prima facie evidence of DUI.

      • Chris says:

        I can understand the frustration, but road rage on either side of the aisle does no one any good. My first reading of your post just made it seem like you were advocating hitting cars in any situation to tell a driver he did something wrong.

        • Angelo says:

          Chris,

          What do you do when a motorist decides that she can run you off the road into the curb because she wants to change lanes and the cars in front of you and behind you are too big to push out of the way? This was 10mph city traffic – her claim I was going too fast to pass was ridiculous (she’d have had to ram the car in front of her.) Did she hit me (I was in the lane in a line of traffic) or did I hit her?

  6. vinh nguyen says:

    in all likelihood, the white lexus tapped pinky racer in the rear wheel before turning off. thus the bent rear wheel, not necessarily causing a immediate crash but probably sped her up and wobbling down the road before a eventual crash.

    • bikinginla says:

      That’s my theory as well. And if it happened that way, the cops watching from behind probably would have had their view blocked by the Lexus.

      • Kim says:

        This is exactly what I’m thinking too. I’m also curious to know if anyone has talked to the paramedics yet? Were their cops at the scene when they arrived? Also, 911 records might be helpful to see if anyone else called the paramedics. 911 often get multiple calls on the same incident.

  7. Yeah detective Wilson was honestly surprised there was no report in the system and was very open, just wanted the facts from me. But the two officers who came to visit me the next day didn’t know her and that she’d been here. Also they clearly wanted to believe it was a single vehicle crash. My dad measured the rear wheel and told me it was definitely out of round. A- no wonder it suddenly felt like a vicious wobble I couldn’t control. B- if a wheel were to get dented due to a pothole or some other road hazard, it’d be the front. C- I’ve used motorcycles as my primary form of transport since 1985 and none of those crashes incurred this many broken bones at once. The pelvic bone is too strong to break so easily.

    More importantly, a friend informed me that a friend of his is still in ICU here after a hit & run on his bicycle around the corner from where I was hit. It was also around 11:30 pm on Friday night, on 5th btwn Spring & main.

  8. [...] any intervention from the White Lexus and inflicting severe impact trauma. I got the news from LAPD reportedly dismisses hit-and-run in Pinkyracer case — in the middle of an ongoing investigati… to which I ask, “What was there in the middle of the bike lane that could cause that much [...]

  9. Allan says:

    Is there a diagram of the events described? I don’t think it was even mentioned what the last intersection was that Susanna crossed, was it? It would be great to find out what parking lot the car came from and maybe even the path the driver took.

  10. Greg says:

    What are the odds the white lexus was driven by LAPD officers? “First on scene, witnessed entire interaction”?

    • bikinginla says:

      According to the police spokesman, the officers were in a marked patrol car. But I — and several others — had exactly the same thought.

  11. Tim says:

    All of you folks here need to take a breath and move on. These fantastic conjectures, these related events leading to…, etc., these leaps of logic, they are just too CrAZy. Why would the cops cover up a hit and run? What is so unbelievable about the notion that she fell on her own? And why discuss what you have no way of knowing the truth about? (me included) I’m outa here.

    • Opus the Poet says:

      Well part of the reason is too many of us have seen botched investigations of bike and pedestrian wrecks, and some of us have seen enough wrecks either in person or through investigations to know that the reported cause and the resulting injuries don’t match. Unless Susanna has osteoporosis it takes a really major impact at speed with an immovable object or something heavy has to hit the body to get multiple fractures of the pelvis, just falling from a bicycle on smooth pavement all by itself won’t do it.

  12. E says:

    I agree I fell off of my bike last year — directly onto my face and slid at least 8 feet. On slick cement. No helmet. It was 8-10 mph. No broken bones. Only an effffed up face for about a year. Minor scrapes and cuts on my hands. And a bruised ego. The bike was fine. Oh and no police or paramedics showed up I was awakened by good samaritans and then I biked home. Went to the ER the next day.

  13. LectricBill says:

    I was hit by a car last year on my motorcycle at about 25 mph and CRACKED my pelvis and I’m over 65 years old. Her injuries aren’t consistent with a solo get off.

  14. [...] rear wheel, which now looks like a “bike taco,” could occur without a collision. BikingInLA, however, says “the supposedly tacoed rear wheel is actually a relatively minor [...]

  15. getrealwheel says:

    Comments make no sense. If she was hit hard enough by the car to cause injuries, she wouldn’t have wobbled and then fallen, she would have gone down immediately and there’d have been damage to the car. If the car tapped her as so many others are saying, then her injuries would be directly fall related and no more severe than any other fall. Can’t play it both ways gang.

    • bikinginla says:

      Nice try.

      In order to “tap” a cyclist, the car following would have to be traveling faster than the bike, with a ton or two of weight behind it to propel the cyclist forward, drastically increasing the speed of the rider and impact of the fall.

      If the comments make no sense to you, it’s pretty clear you’ve never had a serious fall on a bike. Any rider who has knows these injuries far surpass what could be expected at normal riding speeds.

      I’ve been “tapped” myself, not as hard as Schick seems to have been. And I found myself instantly out of control, and traveling much faster than I had been before. Fortunately, I was riding in landscaped area, and my fall was broken by a bush rather than hard pavement.

  16. 1blue1 says:

    That a rear wheel could be” tacoed” without a collision is sort of true, but only if the rider had of permitted it do be sadly in need of maintenance. From the description of the rider involved, I strongly doubt that, which qualifies the comment for a “PANTS ON FIRE” rating, in the extreme.

    As to why would cops cover a hit and run, the only reasons that I know of are; one of their own did it, or someone close to one of them (family member or friend) did it. I have listened to a NJ State Trooper tell how he was covered for a DUI in an accident, so do not give me that garbage. How that people of LA can ever forget Gates and Furman of the foothills division, I will never know.

    • bikinginla says:

      You’re right about the maintenance issue.

      I’ve heard from a highly respected bike mechanic who worked on Schick’s bike just hours before this incident, so there’s no question that her wheels were true and her bike was perfect working order when this happened.

  17. 1blue1 says:

    For those who want to ask, Why would cops cover up a hit and run?” Read todays report of cops suing cops & a department for a coverup: http://www.azcentral.com/community/pinal/articles/2012/04/10/20120410pinal-county-attack-country-thunder-festival-spurs-suit-vs-sheriff.html

    Do not try to tell us that it does not happen. It is endemic all over the country and has been for as long as I can remember.

  18. Teresa Richards says:

    It happens all the time. I walk in LA and have slapped many cars as they illegally turn into the crosswalk when the walk sign is on! And I have witnessed police sitting in their cars do NOTHING when I called it to their attention. I love you Susanna and hoep you get over your injuries soon. I’m a friend from NYC and SF living in LA,
    and in fear of the aggressive road ragers here. xoxoteresa

  19. OO Crew Hero says:

    You recognize the investigation is ongoing. It is irresponsible to make assumptions about what is and what is not being looked in to. Sgt Krumer was professional and did not comment fully on a report that has not been completed. Whether or not someone may have received info from a female detective is not definitive. It seems like you are shaping this incident into a ‘hit and run’ as much as you allege investigators from dissuading it. I am confident that officers are out there to help cyclists and it’s not fair to speculate if officers had an “unobstructed view” when the blogger had no view whatsoever. Let the investigation unfold before writing such a sensational piece substantially based on heresay.

    Be safe out on the road and remember Greg LeMond never wore a helmet – keep it real out there.

    • bikinginla says:

      You have the advantage of looking at this in hindsight; I’ve been reporting on this in real time since the news first broke, based on the information available at the time.

      To the best of my knowledge, I have fairly reported every police statement that has contradicted anything I have written, while challenging those that don’t make sense — such as the claim the rider was traveling at 30 mph at the time of her fall.

      If the police are in fact able to answer the outstanding questions in this case, and it turns out that the victim was at fault, I will gladly report that.

      All I want is the truth, which has been challenging to get as this case unfolded.

  20. Allan says:

    Can someone explain how a wheel, half inch out of true is “tacoed”? I hope Ted can do an article, an exposé if needed, to explain to everyone how alot of kids out there are riding “tacoed” wheels.

    And yes I agree with you, the skater was an uncover informant working with the police.

    BTW, has anyone even ridden Spring on the Green Lane of Death?

    • bikinginla says:

      I used the word tacoed based on the description I had been given of the wheel. The moment I found out that was inaccurate, I wrote the correction you see above.

      I don’t recall ever challenging the credibility of the skater. I merely pointed out that he saw the aftermath of the collision, rather than the collision itself.

      And yes, I’ve ridden the Spring Street bike lane, and found it a huge improvement over the way the street was before. As long as we have adequate enforcement to keep drivers out of it, “Green Lane of Death” hardly applies.

      • Allan says:

        The Green Lane of Death is deadly at 20mph. Try it some time. It’s like it’s growling at you! I find it a most appropriate description. I’m thinking while riding it, ” man I hope I don’t hit one of those f***ing cracks!

        And it seemed like everyone was jumping on this “tacoed” band-wagon.

        Also the skater is the final nail in the coffin of this “police conspiracy.” He didn’t see a collision because there wasn’t a collision.

        uncover = undercover

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