Once again, the Los Angeles District Attorney let a cop accused of wrong doing off the hook.
And once again, it involved someone riding a bicycle.
The LA Times got wind of a plea deal reached earlier this year in the case of LAPD officer Richard Garcia, who was captured on security video beating and kicking a bike rider after he voluntarily surrendered and was already restrained by other officers.
Then-22-year old Clinton Alford Jr. was riding his bike on the sidewalk along Avalon Blvd in South LA when a police car pulled up behind him and ordered him to stop. According Alford, the officers failed to identify themselves, and fearing for his safety, he tried to get away, fleeing first by bike and then on foot.
After a brief pursuit, he stopped on his own and laid down on the ground, and was taken into custody without resistance.
That is, until an officer identified as Richard Garcia arrived on the scene, and immediately began beating and kicking Alford; one police official said he kicked the man’s head like he was kicking a field goal.
This is how the Times described the brutal attack.
The officer then dropped to the ground and delivered a series of strikes with his elbows to the back of Alford’s head and upper body, sources said. Alford’s head can be seen on the video hitting the pavement from the force of the strikes, two sources recounted. Afterward, the officer leaned his knee into the small of Alford’s back and, for a prolonged period, rocked or bounced with his body weight on Alford’s back, the sources said. At one point, the officer put his other knee on Alford’s neck, a source said.
Afterwards, several officers can reportedly be seen on the unreleased video carrying his limp body into a patrol car.
Yet despite that, and despite the determination by LAPD Chief Beck and the Police Commission that Garcia and another unnamed officer violated the department’s use of force policies, DA Jackie Lacey quietly negotiated a plea that lets Garcia off without a single day behind bars. Let alone the three years he faced if the case had gone to trial.
And possibly, without even a felony conviction.
Garcia pled no contest to felony assault in exchange for a sentence of community service and a paltry $500 fine to be paid an unnamed charity. After he completes the terms, he will be allowed to enter a new plea to a misdemeanor charge, which would replace the original conviction, and be placed on two years probation.
According to the Times, Lacey thinks that was a tough sentence.
Lacey said that she believed filing the felony charge against Garcia signaled to both police officers and residents that “people will be held accountable.”
“I do think it sends a strong message to any law enforcement officer who is thinking about violating the law,” she said. “If you talk to any officer about a felony on their record gotten in the course of their job, I don’t think anyone would see this as light at all.”
She’s right, it does send a strong message.
It tells every officer on the street that you can nearly kill a man for no valid reason, and walk away without even a felony conviction on your record.
Which is exactly the same message she sent in refusing to file charges against the LA County sheriff’s deputy who killed cyclist Milt Olin while typing on his onboard computer instead watching out for the man who was legally riding his bike in the bike lane on Mulholland Highway — just moments after the deputy texted his wife while driving, something that could have landed anyone else in jail.
And the same message she sent in refusing to indict the three Gardena police officers who killed an unarmed man who was simply trying to tell them they had stopped the wrong men after his brother’s bicycle was stolen, in a shooting captured on dashcam video.
Let’s be clear. Alford is no saint.
He was originally booked on possession and resisting arrest, charges that were quickly dropped when news of the beating came to light. And he faces new charges of pimping, rape and assault with a deadly weapon.
But even the worst criminal deserves protection from rogue cops who take the law into their own hands.
And from a DA who doesn’t seem to give a damn.
One time might be explainable. But three times is evidence of a pattern, and an apparent policy of refusing to hold even the worst police officers accountable for their actions.
Or maybe it’s just the people on bicycles she doesn’t like.
A cyclist in Corona del Mar receives a death threat from a road raging motorist who calls him a pussy and a queer, among many other things, and says he’s just lucky there are witnesses around. All because the rider had the audacity to ride his bicycle on the sharrows, exactly where he’s supposed to be.
They need to get this asshole off the streets before he kills someone. On purpose.
A Santa Monica writer notes that bike theft was up 30% in the city in 2015, and guesses that the trend has continued this year. And wonders if the Expo Line is to blame.
Never mind that the Expo Line didn’t even reach SaMo until May of this year.
The next time someone says bike riders don’t pay our share of the road because bikes aren’t registered, show them this.
Only 13% of registration fees go to maintain the roads — and even that is just for state highways.
We have results from yesterday’s Olympic time trial, so skip to the next section if it’s still waiting in your viewing queue.
Fabian Cancellara caps his cycling career by capturing gold for Switzerland in the time trial, eight years after winning in Beijing; Tom Doumalin and Chris Froome finished second and third.
No Cinderella story on Wednesday, as cycling scion Taylor Phinney finishes 22nd, over five minutes behind the leaders, while Aussie Rohan Dennis had to settle for fifth after his handlebars broke. A Namibian cyclist takes pride in finishing dead last in the time trial after he entered the race at the last minute on a road bike because he didn’t have a time trial bike.
American Kristin Armstrong overcame age and a bloody nose to win her third consecutive gold medal in the women’s time trial on her final day as a 42-year old; dope-tainted Russian Olga Zabelinskaya took silver while Anna van der Breggen captured bronze. The Wall Street Journal calls Armstrong the comeback queen.
The US women’s pursuit team begins its pursuit of a gold medal today with new left-side drive Felt track bikes that promise to shave three seconds off their time.
The world’s top pro cycling teams have voted to boycott the time trial at October’s world championships in Qatar in a protest against cycling’s governing body.
The LA2050 Challenge Grants are back for another year; applications are being accepted between September 6th and October 4th.
A Los Angeles triathlete’s bike was stolen while she was training with her team in Long Beach; her bike was missing when she came back from a swim. As of this writing, a gofundme account to replace it has raised $1895 of the $3,000 goal.
A French artist begins a two-month examination of the LA River by foot and bike for an art project based on the items he recovers.
Streetsblog’s Joe Linton reports on the soft opening of West Hollywood’s new WeHo Pedals bikeshare. Although almost all of the planned docking stations are on the Santa Monica Blvd corridor, ignoring most north/south streets and the Sunset Strip.
Caltrans reports it has patched pavement along PCH; however, a Malibu Safety Commissioner says they should be held to a higher standard of surface integrity given the large number of bicycles on the roadway.
Friends remember Bill Bowers, the homeless bike rider fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in Castaic last week; posters at the event call the shooting murder.
Save the date for Noche de los Luminarias, the Bike SGV Awards Night on November 10th.
Too little too late. Newport Beach decides to install four new stop signs between Newport Heights Elementary School and Newport Harbor High School following the death of eight-year old Brock McCann as he rode his bike home from school. There’s no reason to believe it would have prevented this tragedy, but maybe it will help prevent the next one.
Dozens of Encinitas streets could get bike lanes or sharrows, depending on the width of the street.
A San Diego man teams up with a cop in an unsuccessful effort to recover his stolen bike, though they did catch the suspected thief with a stolen truck and two other hot bikes. Note to ABC 10: $900 does not a pricey bike make.
A Ventura tow truck driver pled not guilty in the hit-and-run death of 14-year old bike rider Jonathan Hernandez earlier this year; he faces up to 40 months in prison if he’s convicted.
A mountain biker says the current ban on bikes in wilderness areas is based on nothing more than a few people who don’t like them, and risks dividing supporters of environmental protection of unspoiled areas.
Elly Blue says everyone benefits by looking past the stereotype of bicyclists as white guys in spandex to embrace the full bicycling community, regardless of color or sex, noting that people of color make up the fastest growing cycling demographic.
People for Bikes says businesses are finding creative ways to put bicycles to work.
When a beginning bike rider asks how far an “easy” ride really is, a Portland writer says a bike coach who recommends adding 10 miles per ride until you reach 80 miles can just fuck off.
A New Mexico teen is making a remarkable recovery, even if his dreams of becoming a pro cyclist ended on the bumper of a careless driver.
A Denver bike rider says the hit-and-run driver who ran him down did it on purpose.
The National Transportation Safety Board issues their preliminary report on the Kalamazoo massacre in which five cyclists were killed and four injured by a stoned driver, but doesn’t have much to add to the story. If this is just the first step in the NTSB finally dealing with bicycling and traffic safety, it’s a welcome one; if not, it should be.
Scientists at Columbia University are studying vehicle exhaust to determine its effects on bike riders.
A Pennsylvania county offers a $500 reward to catch whoever has been repeatedly tossing tacks on a popular bike trail. Note to Fox 43: A deliberate attempt to harm cyclists or their bikes may be many things, but a prank it’s not.
Philadelphia women say they’re forced to ride their bikes through red lights and stop signs to escape threats and sexual harassment. Seriously, everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to travel the streets safely and without fear.
A Canadian bike rider praised Vancouver’s bike lane network, but says most of the country’s bike lanes are a waste of space and money, with some amounting to little more than private roads for hip urbanites.
British cyclists crowdfund the private prosecution of a driver accused of killing a 70-year old bike rider; a writer says it’s not about persecuting the driver, but getting prosecutors to take bicycling deaths seriously. Too bad we can’t do that here.
Katy Perry is one of us, as she shows a little cheek riding in the French countryside.
Anime fans can look forward to the release of Yowamushi Pedal: Spare Bike next month, though you may have to go to Japan to see it.
This is why you don’t lock up to living things. A Chinese bike thief is caught on video cutting down a tree to steal the bicycle chained to it.
And if you want to illustrate the town’s new bike lanes, maybe the best way to do it isn’t with a photo of a salmon cyclist riding next to one, with a sidewalk cyclist visible in the background.
I’m just saying.