Tag Archive for Culver City Police Department

Christine Dahab enters guilty plea in 2011 Culver City Massacre, faces minimum 90 day sentence

Most of us who have followed this story from the beginning never thought this day would never come.

It was just less than two years ago that a car driven by an allegedly drunk and distracted Christine Dahab plowed through a group of cyclists stopped alongside a Culver City roadway, injuring 13 riders, some seriously.

The case took a turn for the worse almost immediately, as the initial, highly biased LAPD investigation blamed the victims for allegedly standing in the roadway — even though they were actually in the parking lane — and suggested that she could not have seen them there because of a blind curve that didn’t exist.

And some members of the media irresponsibly implied that the riders had been engaged in a drunken orgy, noting the presence of empty liquor bottles and condoms near the collision site. Yet failed to note the collision occurred near a popular lovers hangout or that the inflammatory items could have been there for days or weeks, let alone connect them to the riders in any way.

Meanwhile, some misguided motorheads applauded Dahab’s apparent efforts to decrease the excess cyclist population.

Fortunately, the Culver City Police Department took over the investigation after it was determined that the collision occurred just inside the CC city limits.

The CCPD investigators refused to give up on the case, even when it would have been far easier to follow the LAPD’s lead and let Dahab off the hook. Especially when many of the witnesses, some of whom may have been under-aged, were reluctant to come forward.

However, their painstaking investigation eventually led the L.A. District Attorney’s office to file felony charges of DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

But in the 16 months since then, the case seemed to fall off the radar as a then-pregnant Dahab missed at least one court date, and other more recent and higher-profile cases took priority in the minds of local bicyclists.

Even I managed to forget the case was still ongoing as nothing appeared to take place.

But looks can be deceiving.

Frequent contributor Dj Wheels now reports that Dahab unexpectedly entered a guilty plea last week. And even more surprisingly, according to the cyclist and attorney, she did it without a plea deal in place, throwing herself on the mercy of the court.

On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, Christine Dahab entered a plea of no contest to all counts. She has pled “open to the court,” meaning she didn’t bargain for a lesser sentence but rather will ask for leniency from the Judge directly based on a diagnostic evaluation to be completed by the Dept. of Corrections while she is in custody.

She will surrender directly at a CA State prison on April 22, 2013.

She will remain in custody for the 90 day evaluation period, a report will be prepared by the Dept. of Corrections and sent to the Judge in Dept. D with its recommendations for sentencing.

April 22 is also on calendar as a probation/sentencing hearing, but they will probably just select a future date for the sentencing hearing which would have to be beyond the 90 day diagnostic period.

Victims will be notified of the actual sentencing date so that they can give their victim impact statements in court to the Judge to take into consideration when making his sentencing order.

So even if Dahab is released at the of her evaluation, she will have spent at least 90 days in custody — more than many drivers receive in fatal collisions.

And depending on the results, she could face considerably more.

Not bad for a case almost no one outside the cycling community, including the driver herself, seemed to take very seriously.

Thanks to Dj Wheels for the heads-up. And to the CCPD and DA’s office for fighting for a conviction few of us expected.

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The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition wants your help to keep the Spring Street green lanes green in light of continued ridiculous attacks from some in Hollywood who value their locations and free parking more than your safety.

The LACBC is also sponsoring a cash mob next Sunday in support of the provisional road diet and bike lanes on Rowena Ave.

Meanwhile, a bilingual newspaper group bizarrely fears bike lanes on York Boulevard could fuel a violent bikelash against bike riders.

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BOLO Alert: Be on the lookout for a stolen black and white Cannondale SuperSix taken near Silverlake around 4 Sunday afternoon.

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KCRW traffic maven Kajon Cermak discusses the effects of L.A.’s newly synchronized traffic signals; seems like if I get stopped at one light on my bike, I get stopped at all of them. Rumors are L.A. will soon merge the Department of Planning with Building and Safety. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles leads the nation in traffic congestion. The proposal for a $3 billion bond issue to fix L.A. streets is back; as I said before, as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead in the water unless it includes a provision for speeding up Complete Streets and fixing our broken sidewalks. The Emerald Necklace plan proposes 16 park and bike path projects along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers, while writer for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune says only CEQA can make a project like that sound bad; thanks to BikeSGV and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Better Bike says take your money somewhere else as the Biking Black Hole punts on promised bike racks. Cycling in the South Bay writes beautifully about early morning rides on the city’s deserted streets. Santa Monica will host its first Kidical Mass this Saturday.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan is biking cross country for her Tour de Peace, with stops in Santa Monica and Claremont on Sunday. New sharrows hit the road in Redlands. San Diego is slowly becoming more bike-friendly. Cyclelicious lists hearing dates for bike-related bills in this year’s legislature, while Calbike shares their 2013 legislative agenda; I don’t see the third attempt at a three-foot law anywhere on their list. A Salinas hit-and-run driver is under arrest after striking a man riding a child’s bike. A San Jose man is sentenced to a well-deserved 41 years in prison for killing two men and injuring another in a road rage assault; thanks to Ralph Durham for the link.

As any cyclist could tell you, bans on using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving aren’t working; an estimated 660,000 Americans use their cell phones while driving every day. Too many drivers don’t look for pedestrians — or bicyclists — when they turn left. Legendary 1920s baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped out of high school to take up bike racing. People for Bikes discusses what to wear, or not, while riding, while an Oregon writer debates the need for underwear under bike shorts; kind of defeats the purpose of a good chamois, mais non? An Oregonian takes up bike commuting in response to rising gas prices. Seattle’s Department of DIY installs their own protected bike lane. An Anchorage man completes the 2,000 mile Iron Dog sled dog trail in 40 days on a fat tire bike. A South Dakota man tragically demonstrates the risks of off-road mountain biking. A Galveston driver gets a well-deserved 10-year sentence for fleeing the scene after killing a cyclist, even though the rider reportedly ran a stop sign. A Dallas councilmember suggests repealing the city’s mandatory helmet law to encourage bicycling. This Louisiana tour sounds like about as much fun as you can have on a bike. A Wisconsin legislator want to legalize some cases of drunken bike riding to allow pedal pub crawls. A Minneapolis cyclist survives an attack with a Molotov cocktail. If you’re carrying a loaded .38 with an outstanding New York warrant, don’t ride on the damn sidewalk, already.

A Vancouver writer looks into mandatory helmet laws, and changes his mind. In a horrible collision, a Montreal cyclist falls under a truck after hitting a stopped car, then is killed when the light changes and the truck pulls forward. Four in 10 Brits now ride bikes, including one out of every two men and over half of Londoners. The London Times corrects seven common bicycling myths. A UK council votes to remove a ghost bike three years after the victim is killed. Yet another British bike racer has been hit by a car while riding; this time, its gold medalist Joanna Rowsell. A Liverpool pedestrian dies a day after a collision with a bicyclist, after deciding not to wait to see an emergency room doctor. A Cambridge bike rider nearly has his belongings seized after he’s mistakenly fined the equivalent of over $1,000 for riding without lights. Eddie Merckx Cycles promises to advance bicycle design by investigating bike stability and possibly put an end to death wobbles. A young American cyclist gets a last-minute call to ride in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, won by Fabian Cancellara in a sprint over 24-year old Sep Vanmarcke. Spanish cycling legend Miguel Poblet passes away at 85; he was the first España rider to wear the yellow jersey. Women cyclists dread Aussie roads, while an Australian woman calls for more riders in dresses and heels; thank goodness I’ve got the legs for it. Canberra cyclists have doubled in numbers over the last nine years, while Adelaide cycling is up 10% over the last year after increasing 20% the year before. Yes, there should be fewer cyclists in Lycra, but only because there should be more cyclists wearing anything they please; couldn’t have said it better myself. Earthquake damaged Christchurch plans to rebuild with Copenhagen-style separated bikeways.

Finally, a bike riding Korean War chaplain is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, and may be considered for sainthood. And a Brooklyn writer offers advice to motorists on how to stop hitting him with their cars.

CCPD asks Culver City witnesses to come forward; LA bike community to hold major press event Thursday

Culver City police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision earlier this month in which an alleged drunk, speeding and distracted driver collided with a group of late night riders on Jefferson Blvd.

Anyone with information is urged to come in to police headquarters to review a photo reconstruction of the event. If you were there, or know people who were, contact CCPD Officers Davis or Newman at 310-253-6254. Thanks to Jim Shanman of the Culver City Bicycle Coalition for the heads-up.

And clear your schedule for tomorrow morning, when a wide spectrum of the Los Angeles cycling community representing cyclists of all types — myself included — will come together for a press event to protest the botched LAPD investigation and biased press coverage of this case, and make a public call for safer streets and fair investigation into all cycling incidents.

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LB shooting victim ID’d, Doug Caldwell killer goes to trial, Ventura’s Satnam Sing faces murder charge

Coroner’s officials identified the cyclist shot and killed in Long Beach on Tuesday night as 34–year old Pablo Ortiz. The shooting took place around 7:30 pm on the 2100 block of East 14th Street; anyone with information is asked to call the LBPD Homicide Detail at 562-570-7247.

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Trial will begin next week in the case of Gordon Catlett Wray, the driver accused of killing local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell, and injuring fellow rider Scott Evans. Jury selection and opening arguments are both scheduled for Wednesday at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, case #0SR05313.

Reports are that both sides have stipulated to the cause of death — that is, that the victims were run over by Wray’s Camry — however, the fact that this is going to trial indicates that Wray’s attorney thinks he can get his client off. From what I’ve heard, they may claim that the sun was in his eyes, making it impossible to see the riders in front of him.

If you’ve got some free time next week, some cyclists sitting in the courtroom could help prevent any glare — or smokescreens — from blinding the jury.

Thanks to John Stesney for the reminder.

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Dj Wheels sends notice of a little good news, if you can call it that, that I missed somehow last week.

The Ventura County Star reports that a murder charge has been added to the charges against Satnam Sigh, the driver who killed college student Nick Haverland and injured several other people in a series of allegedly drunken hit-and-run collisions in Ventura last month.

According to the Star:

Senior Deputy District Attorney Richard Simon said second degree murder requires proof that the defendant acted with conscious disregard for life, not intent to kill, Simon said.

Prosecutors determined Singh’s actions fit that definition based on the defendant’s high blood alcohol level, speed and the fact that he fled multiple crashes before the collision that killed Haverland, Simon said.

“All those told us that he knew what he was doing was dangerous, but he did it anyway,” Simon said.

In addition to second degree murder, Singh faces charges of felony drunk driving, felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor hit-and-run.

Needless to say, he’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Bikeside’s Alex Thompson offers an in-depth update on the Culver City collision case to include the good news that the driver could potentially face DUI charges after all. Hats off to everyone at Bikeside for taking the lead in covering this important case.

The Culver City Police Department has taken over the investigation, and officers are looking for any photos or video of the scene prior to intervention by police or fire officials, as well as testimony from independent witnesses (re: not cyclists or the driver). Anyone with information is urged to contact CCPD Officers Davis, Cisneros or Newman at 310/253-6254.

Word is that tonight’s Critical Mass may visit the crash site to protest the crash and initial police investigation; then again, knowing CM, it may not. But at any rate, the positive relationship with the LAPD should survive.

Meanwhile, a broad coalition of local cyclists and organizations have been working on an official response; look for a statement in the near future.

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Two arrests have been made in the beating of cyclists participating in the mostly-clothed L.A. edition of the World Naked Bike Ride earlier this month.  Twenty-year old L.A. residents Carlos Rojas and Amanda Arellano were booked under $75,000 and $35,000 bonds, respectively. Two other male suspects are still being sought.

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LACBC member John Morlock will be hosting a car wash from 9 am – 2 pm on Sunday, July 3rd at 316 W. Florence Ave in Inglewood to raise funds for Ride2Recovery, a nationwide program that helps wounded vets reclaim their lives through cycling. There will also be a taco truck onsite for those who want a great lunch — or don’t have cars and still want to contribute.

And I’m sure no one would object if you just want to stop by and make a contribution. Or if you walked next door to get a cobbler for dessert from one of the best restaurants in Southern California.

While this isn’t affiliated with LACBC, it’s a great cause and one I support 100%. So if you find yourself driving or riding anywhere near the area on the 3rd, stop by and tell John I sent you.

Maybe they’ll even wash your bike if you ask nice.

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Miscellaneous pro cycling news:

Twenty-eight-year old Austrian ultracyclist Christoph Strasser wins this year’s RAAM. RadioShack’s Levi Leipheimer overcame a two-minute margin to win the Tour de Suisse by a razor thin 4 seconds. Pro cycling’s winningest team could lose its sponsorship and cease to exist in fallout over doping cases — despite taking the High Road.

The Claremont Cyclist profiles the groundbreaking Greg LeMond, who turns 50 this weekend, and has his name on my bike. Ex-fellow Tour de France winner Floyd Landis is represented by a high-powered team of made-up lawyers; frankly, he needs the best team of imaginary barristers money can buy.

The contest I mentioned here last week to send someone to work with Team Liquigas­–Cannondale at next month’s Tour de France has been won by Joe Praino of Arlington VA.

And former framebuilder extraordinaire Dave Moulton raises a very intriguing question — why has the rate of deaths for pro cyclists doubled since UCI required helmets for all racers?

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A new street signal will finally be installed for the murderous North Hollywood intersection that took the life of 12-year old Emily Aleman and cycling hit-and-run victim Robert Painter. L.A. cyclists put together their own DIY bike destination map. Rick Risemberg says if this is the way they plan to build a bike boulevard, we’re better of the way things are. The latest BPIT meeting is compared to a tar ball, and not favorably. Changes are coming to Downtown L.A., with bike lanes planned for Fig, Flower, Spring and Main Downtown. A profile of bike, river and eco-activist Joe Linton. Actor Donald Sutherland hits a cyclist with his SUV in Santa Monica. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune says even though cyclists can be annoying, drivers should chill and let us live, and sentiment I share and for which I thank them. Sidi America will offer special deals at I. Martin Friday night; why do things like this always happen when I’m broke? Maybe because I usually am, no?

A group of South Bay cyclists say the proposed South Bay Bike Plan needs to include a real extension of the beach bike path through King Harbor. The family of Michael Nine, who was killed in a collision with a gardener’s truck in Newport Beach last year, files suit against just about everyone; as usual, be forewarned that ignorance abounds in the comments. A San Diego cyclist is buzzed by a patrol car, then written up for riding — apparently legally — in the traffic lane. The SF Chronicle says door zones, no; helmets yes. Cyclist’s riding the famed Golden Gate Bridge now face a 15 mph speed limit, with a 5 mph limit when passing peds; can a speed limit be legally enforced on vehicles that often lack speedometers? For a bike paradise, Marin County is pretty dangerous. Cyclists are urged to attend Monday’s State Assembly Transportation Committee hearing to support the proposed 3-foot passing law; word is the controversial 15 mph passing differential exemption has or will be removed.

Despite the negative headline, a car writer doesn’t seem to take a clear stand on whether an Interstate Bike Route System is a good thing or a bad thing; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up. No surprise, it turns out the top cities for bike commuting are happier, too. A People For Bikes blogger narrowly averted tragedy at 15 by not getting a car. Green colored bike lanes are no longer considered experimental by the feds. A new study shows bike projects create more jobs than other transportation infrastructure. Sibling’s cross-country bike tour honors victims of drunk drivers. A man travels across country by bike to visit every major league ball park and ask for a job. Utah cyclists ride for respect and road courtesy. A Wyoming highway patrolman saves a cyclist towing two skateboarders from a drunk driver. Denver gets it’s first cycle track. A truly heartless hit-and-run driver hits and seriously injures an 11-year old, then gets out of her car to reclaim her hubcap before fleeing the scene. An 86-year old cyclist is killed in a time trial accident at the National Senior Games. Mystery art bikes return to Muskegon MI. A short, quick list on bike path etiquette; can’t say I disagree. The Wall Street Journal says New York’s bike wars are over and we won; even the Australian press say peace could be at hand — for New Yorkers, not for Aussies. Is Janette Sadik-Khan’s predecessor trying to sabotage her work? Evidently, it’s perfectly legal to run over a cyclist a second time — after she had already hit the rider once and gotten out of her car to check on her — in Mississippi. This is why you don’t run your dog next to your bike, especially on hot days.

A pro mountain biker is identified as one of the Vancouver hockey rioters — but not the one making out in the famous photo. Toronto officials waste no time in getting rid of popular bike lanes. Apparently, London’s transportation agency counts cyclists as just one-fifth of a car. Britain’s Conservatives go on record as opposing efforts to give walking and cycling priority in road projects. A lovely ride through London town; link courtesy of Bike Commute News. How to prepare your body and your bike for more riding. It’s amazing what you can do with a little tin foil, oil and a lot of patience. A Copenhagen cyclist is killed when a car being chased by police goes off the road at 112 mph. Advanced advice on wheel truing from Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs.

Finally, a big congratulations to the man who’s bringing bike culture to the hill country of North Carolina, as Zeke has been named a Haywood County Hometown Hero (scroll to page A10). And a NY cyclist says cyclists are people too, so ride responsibly and don’t be a tool, while the Onion offers their own unique take on bike safety.

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