No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass next week

Evidently, tire tracks aren't sufficient proof of getting run over.

Evidently, tire tracks aren’t sufficient proof of getting run over.

Just a couple quick notes this morning.

First up, a painful reminder that justice for cyclists remains elusive, even here in relatively enlightened and bronze-level bike friendly Los Angeles.

You may recall last September we told the story of a bike rider who was harassed by a driver while riding home from work in Chatsworth.

He reported being passed in a dangerous manner, then repeatedly honked and yelled at after passing the car while it was stopped in traffic. When the rider paused to ask what the driver’s problem was, he was told bikes aren’t allowed in the street and threatened with a call to the police.

If only the driver had, he might have been quickly corrected and properly chastised. Instead, he got out of his car and physically threatened the cyclist. Then things got worse.

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, although it left him with leg pain that lingers today.

Unfortunately, it also left him with emotional scars caused by yet another failure of the justice system to take an assault with a deadly weapon seriously, when that weapon is a car and the victim is on a bike — despite having two witnesses to the attack.

I got this email from him last night.

I was just told today that the LAPD decided not to charge the driver who ran me over with any crime.  This news came as a extreme shock, to think that a driver can honk and yell at a cyclist then intentionally run him over, get out of his car, call that cyclist names then speed off, and not be charged with any crime.  It just makes me feel like I’m going to die riding a bike in LA and no one will care.  I trusted our system.  It has failed me and it has failed every cyclist in Los Angeles.  I don’t know if you care to update the story or ask anyone why he wasn’t charged; I’m told lack of evidence. But I had 2 witnesses, I had a smashed front wheel of my bike and badly bruised leg ankle and foot as well as tire tracks across my leg.  I was barely able to walk for 3 weeks and still to this day I have pain in my ankle and right foot. I’m just in so much shock right now.

Shocked is a good word for it.

Appalled, disgusted and mad as hell would be appropriate responses, as well.

He was clearly injured, he had physical proof of a collision and witnesses who could attest that the driver got out of his car and threatened him.

Yet somehow, that isn’t sufficient to file charges — even though I’ve been told by police that simply getting out of a motor vehicle is sufficient for a charge of assault in a situation like this

I can’t explain it. Except as a reminder of the bad old days when bike riders knew we couldn’t count on the LAPD for protection on the streets, let alone justice.

I thought we’d left those days behind as the cycling community established a better relationship with the police. But maybe I was wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve strongly urged the victim to contact a lawyer to discuss filing a civil suit under LA’s still-untested bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

He would seem to have an ideal case.

And the best part is, he wouldn’t have to count on the police to lift a finger.

………

By now, you probably know the name Damian Kevitt.

He’s the man who riding his bike with his wife near Griffith Park exactly a year ago this week when a van driver stuck in traffic made an illegal U-turn, hitting his bike in the process.

If the driver had simply stopped, Kevitt might have suffered minor injuries. Instead, he floored it, dragging the trapped cyclist 600 feet onto the 5 Freeway before he was finally dislodged in front of high-speed traffic as the van sped away.

Fortunately, he landed near a doctor and an off-duty paramedic who were able to tend to him until paramedics arrived; otherwise, the outcome of this crime might have been much different.

As it was, Kevitt was among the most critically injured riders I’ve ever heard of who somehow survived their collisions.

And not only survived, but thrived.

A year later, Kevitt is back on his bike, an artificial leg replacing the one lost in the collision. And he’s inviting every cyclist to join with him on April 27th to Finish the Ride.

The easy, 12-mile ride will benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. But more importantly, will allow us to honor the courage of an amazing man, while calling attention to the epidemic of hit-and-runs.

In addition, Kevitt is planning to hold a vigil in front of City Hall during the Critical Mass ride next Friday, February 28th. As part of that, he’s inviting anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run, as well as the families of those who have been lost to hit-and-run, to join him in calling for a stop to the crime, and justice for those who have been victimized by it.

If you’d like to join him — and I would strongly encourage it if you can — email him at damiankevitt@FinishTheRide.com, or leave a message at 206/495-3116.

As for justice, the heartless bastard who nearly took Kevitt’s life is still out there somewhere.

Despite a $25,000 reward.

 

16 comments

  1. I simply cannot understand where LAPD is coming from on the road rage incident. This was a clear case of assault (and also with a deadly weapon) and they did … nothing. The victim had marks from the assaults on his body and pictoral proof of the assault and witnesses to the assault willing to testify and LAPD did … nothing. And then LAPD wonders why they get so little support when things get tight come budget time?

  2. MIchael says:

    “I’m told lack of evidence” – was this the official police response for failing to charge the driver? When a person can use a vehicle as a weapon with no repercussion, society at large has been failed, not just those of us in the bicycling community. The streets will continue to grow more hostile until officials realize this and take appropriate action.

  3. Constance says:

    My long experience with political life is that the LAPD needs to be embarrassed into action. The newspapers have to agree to an article; TV needs to cover it as a “outrage” and a failure by the District attorney’s office, and the Chief of Police needs a letter. Then, sue the murderous jerk.

  4. Outrageous. The bigotry against cyclists is boundless.

  5. Coco says:

    They need to cover this in the local news. Has anyone tried to get them to cover this story?

  6. Lois says:

    Yeah, this case needs some old fashioned publicity. What about a letter writing campaign to the local congressmen/women, to the police chief, and to the mayor? I would think that the local T.V. news would like to discuss this as well. And a lawyer is definitely in order. I think it warrants an assault claim more than simple harassment.

  7. David says:

    Anyone that is the Victim of a bike accident that may have criminal implications in California needs to be familiar with California’s New Victims’ Right Act:

    http://oag.ca.gov/victimservices/content/bill_of_rights

    Particular Attention should be paid to section 6:
    Marsy’s Law provides that “a victim has the right to reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.”

    A Victim has the right to hire an attorney to enforce these rights for them. You can’t rely on the underfunded government to do so automatically–they need to be pushed.

    In regards to criminal charging–the police submit their reports to the District Attorney who makes charging decisions. You or your attorney can petition the District Attorney to re-review the case for charges. Sometimes without your knowledge, the prospective defendant may hire a criminal defense attorney to push the District Attorney not to file charges. Sometimes the DA reviewing the case is overburdened and “slips” on their charging call. Ask if they have a process for a re-review.

    Regarding Civil v Criminal. If you obtain a criminal conviction first, then it can become evidence of liability in the Civil case–then you just prove damages. But even without a criminal case–a personal injury attorney may be able to bring charges against a driver for Assault, Negligence, and Property Damage and obtain a judgement and damages for you.

    If you need a recommendation for a Civil Personal Injury Attorney to consult with who is also a long term cyclist in the San Fernando Valley of California–let me know and I will give you his name. Only in consult with an experienced attorney can you know if you have a case. Usually their consultations are free because their fee is a percent of what they collect. If you need the name of an Attorney who also practices Victim’s Right’s Law in the Criminal Arena, likewise, let me know, but they may require a consultation fee.

  8. me says:

    I wonder if the cyclist was to go to this drivers home ring his doorbell, and hit him in the head with a baseball bat, and there was no witness to see it, if the police would consider that not to be an assault for “lack of evidence”?

  9. […] CA LAPD seriously drops the ball on a cyclist assaulted in a road rage case. No justice for a victim of road rage; hit-and-run victims urged join Damien Kevitt at Critical Mass … They have pictures of the car and plate, the crushed bicycle and pictures of the tire tracks over […]

  10. Riding in Burbank says:

    It is stories like these that send a chill down your spine and wonder what sort of world we are leaving for our children.

  11. Meg says:

    A couple quick thoughts…

    1) LAPD doesn’t decide to not charge someone. That’s the prosecutor’s job, either the City Attorney or the District Attorney. LAPD presents the case and the prosecutor decides what, if anything, to charge. So while LAPD may be to blame for failing to do much investigation into the case, it’s the prosecutor that failed to charge the driver.

    2) While it might not be charged as a crime, there’s no reason not to pursue civil damages against the driver. If there are witnesses and injuries, then why not sue this jerk. It might be less satisfying than seeing him go to jail for a few months, but a few thousand dollars in damages, not covered by his insurance, would sure be better than nothing. There are at least a handful of lawyers who do all biking law in L.A. Why not get in touch and see if they’d take the case. I don’t know the quality of his work, but one of the big names is Gary Brustin, http://www.bicyclelawyer.com/.

  12. Jeff Jacobberger says:

    There was an era when LAPD and the City Attorney found gay-bashing completely acceptable. They refused to take reports, refused to investigate, and refused to prosecute.
    Our “progressive” political leadership would never dare to treat gay people like that anymore.
    But they are completely comfortable treating bicyclists that way. We cannot be the victims of crime because, in their eyes, we deserve every amount of abuse and violence that we are subjected to.

  13. Mark Elliot says:

    I agree with Meg. We’d all love to see the victim sue the guy. In fact, the satisfaction would be much greater, I think, because the county would just turn him lose in no time anyway for early release. But a successful civil could draw blood. Real blood the old American way: a damages judgment.

  14. […] Ted Rogers writes at Biking in L.A., “Apparently tire tracks aren’t significant enough evidence that one has been run […]

  15. Mike says:

    Why don’t cyclists just ignore the idiot drivers that don’t know the law? Your logic will be lost on them anyway.

    As they say, you can’t fix stupid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 + 13 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: