Tag Archive for Gardena Police Department

Daughter of LAPD Sgt. accepts plea in death of Gardena cyclist Jesse Dotson

Despite her best efforts, the killer of a Gardena bike rider was unable to avoid justice after all.

Although her semi-successfult attempt to flee the scene may have spared her from a more severe penalty.

Twenty-three-year old Vanessa Marie Yanez was reportedly driving home when she collided with 60-year old postal worker Jesse Dotson as he was riding into work on Gardena’s El Segundo Blvd in June of last year. Yanez fled the scene, leaving Dotson bleeding in the street; he died in a local hospital a few days later.

The daughter of a veteran LAPD sergeant, Yanez reported the car stolen to the Huntington Park police the next day. However, an alert HPPD officer put two-and-two together after seeing news reports of the collision, and contacted Gardena police to report Yanez as a suspect.

Her car was found, complete with shattered windshield, still at the home she shared with her father, less than a mile from the scene of the collision. KNBC-4 later reported she told police she had been drinking before the wreck; if true, fleeing the scene would have given her time to sober up before her arrest.

She was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, perjury, filing a false police report and felony hit-and-run.

Gardena police initially said her father, Sgt. Arturo Yanez, could face charges if it was shown that he had knowledge of his daughter’s actions or was involved in the attempted cover-up. No such charges were ever filed, though, even though it’s hard to understand how such an experienced officer would be unaware of what was happening under his own roof.

There were also reports that he could face an internal investigation with the LAPD; however, such investigations are considered personnel matters, and the results are unlikely to ever be made public.

Today, the LA District Attorney’s office announced (pdf) that Vanessa Yanez had changed her plea to no contest on three counts — a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident, felony perjury, and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. She is expected to be sentenced to two years in state prison on September 25th.

The sentence seems light under the circumstances, suggesting she accepted a plea deal in exchange for a lighter sentence, as usually happens in traffic cases.

However, light sentences do little to stem the epidemic of hit-and-runs. And her sentence would have undoubtedly been much stiffer if it could have been shown that she was under the influence when she hit Dotson.

Which is just one more reason why the penalty for hit-and-run should be stiffened to match the penalties for drunk driving and remove the incentive for intoxicated drivers to flee the scene.

Correction: This story initially said Yanez had pled guilty; it has been amended to reflect her actual plea of no contest.

 

Gardena BWB tickets dropped, bike rider shooting caught on video, York road diet improves safety

Good news from Gardena for a change.

Streetsblog reports that the LACBC, along with a number of outraged letter writers, have been instrumental in getting the Gardena police to drop the tickets issued to a group of riders stopped for apparently riding while brown.

The riders, mostly members of the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz, had just replaced a ghost bike for fallen hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres, which had been removed by the city. And which was removed a second time just hours later.

They were on their way meet with city officials when they were stopped, frisked, and — after much delay and debate among the many officers present — ticket for obstructing traffic, in violation of state law.

I doubt that members of La Grange, or any other spandex-clad Westside riding group, would have been stopped under the same circumstance. Let alone frisked.

Then again, it’s not like you can hide much in Spandex. Or anything, for that matter.

Fortunately, justice and rationality has finally reigned in Gardena.

Now if they can just keep their cops from killing crime victims.

The story notes that another memorial ride will be held this weekend. And this time, Gardena police have been invited to take part.

Now, the United Riders of South L.A. are asking for you to show your support for them, for victims of hit-and-runs, and for cycling in Gardena in general by joining them on this weekend’s memorial ride.

The group will meet this Saturday, August 10, at Rowley Park (13220 Van Ness Ave) at 3:30 p.m. to do a loop through Gardena and stop to pay their respects at the site where Torres was killed. If you have any questions, please see here or contact the East Side Riders or Los Ryderz.

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The LAPD offers security video showing two gunmen targeting a bike rider in what would have been a drive-by, except the shooters got out of their SUV to fire their guns repeatedly.

Not surprisingly, police think the shooting, which occurred in El Sereno late last month, was gang related. The victim was treated and released for non-life-threatening injuries.

And just to clarify, gang-related does not necessarily mean the person getting shot at is a gang member; just that the people shooting at him may have been, or thought he was.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact Hollenbeck Detective Donna Cornejo at 323-224-0104.

However, someone should tell the LAPD that bike riders, even ones getting shot at, are not pedestrians.

Mistaking the two could explain a lot when it comes to why some cops seem confused about the rights of riders.

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Analysis of the 2006 York Blvd road diet shows it cut collisions by 23%, and injuries by 27%. And reduced felony hit-and-runs by a whopping 47%. However, collisions involving bicyclists continue to rise, perhaps due to increased ridership.

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LA’s proposed street repair bond is revived by the city council; with reports due back to the council on the feasibility of including fixing sidewalks and complete streets serving all road users — including bicyclists — in the bond issue.

Of course, there’s a difference between mandating a complete streets approach and requesting a feasibility study. So we’ll want to keep an eye on this one.

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Free three-hour bicycling skills courses will be offered by Metro and the LACBC over the next two months. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition hosts a family ride this Friday. The next Wolfpack Hustle midnight drag race gears up on September 7th; registration opens August 10th. Santa Monica’s new Streetsblog edition is coming next month. Formerly bike-unfriendly Malibu will show just how much they’ve changed with two PCH Safety Study Meetings later this month, on the 20th and 22nd. Oh the horror of it all, as Glendale streets are losing lanes and gaining signs to accommodate non-motorized road users. Long Beach looks into funding for their own ciclovia.

The Huntington Beach bike shop looted in the recent surf riot now offers T-shirts proclaiming it Riot Proof, as locals pitch in to pay for the damage. San Diego’s Qualcomm is working on a portable system to help drivers avoid bikes and pedestrians; thank goodness, because eyes and ears don’t seem to do the job. The fourth annual Ventura Share the Road Ride is scheduled for October 5th. Cyclelicious looks at the bike section of the updated 2013 California Drivers Handbook; not perfect, but it’s getting better, even if it does still say you can park in a bike lane. This is the guy behind many of the recent innovations in bike design. A San Francisco bike rider is killed in a Calistoga SWSS — Single Witness Suicide Swerve. A Red Bluff man says bicyclists don’t belong on local highways unless they pay to put bike lanes on them, neglecting to consider who pays for the traffic lanes he drives in — or that most cars come equipped with brakes to help them avoid slower traffic. Downtown Chico sports new green bike lanes, thus ruining their chance to pass for LA’s Spring Street in any Hollywood production.

The Federal Highway Administration moves to back separated cycle tracks. AAA’s own stats say high speeds kill, yet the Auto Club consistently opposes attempts to lower them. Not surprisingly, bike riders gravitate towards protected bikeways. The Bike League offers an in-depth report on women’s bicycling, and how to get more women on bikes. New flash cards help assess concussion in cycling falls; every racing team and riding club should have a set. No one really knows why your bike doesn’t just fall over; then again, maybe they do. Now that’s sad, as a barking dog leads strangers to the body of his master, who was killed in a fall from his bike. Seattle newspaper calls for more and better bicycling infrastructure. A Las Vegas bike rider is slashed by a double meat cleaver wielding Juggalo; my worst nightmare — homicidal, probably insane and horrific taste in music. The Denver public library goes mobile with a WiFi equipped book bike. Bike share generates more foot traffic than car parking in Chicago. How to not bike like a dickweed. New York mayoral candidate calls for a Vision Zero plan — aka no traffic deaths — for the city; long past time for one of our own here in the City of Angeles. Beyoncé bikes across the Brooklyn Bridge to perform at the Barclays Center; no one recognized her, proving that bikes really do make you invisible. Boston guards bikes in a subway station with a cardboard cutout of a cop — and it works; thanks to D.D. Syrdal for the link. In a heartbreaking case, the family of a cyclist riding near his home witnesses the hit-and-run that killed him. Mass insanity strikes Cobb County GA as they reject a grant because it reeks of a UN Agenda 21 plot to take away their cars. Louisiana bike rider tries to outrun a patrol car after stealing soda and beer.

Toronto cops are ordered to track doorings, while a local writer says let the city’s bike share system die a slow and painful death. In a hard-hitting piece, a Brit blogger says it’s really not funny when someone claims they were only joking about killing a cyclist or raping a woman, and the two have more in common than you might think. Britain’s Liberal Democrats call for proportionate liability to hold the larger vehicle responsible in a collision; something I’ve long called for (#10) here. Bike riders don’t deserve the abuse they receive on Twitter. Eight in ten British cyclists fear for their safety on the country’s roads; evidently, the rest don’t read online comments. Or maybe it’s because the courts send 95-year old drivers who kill cyclists after fainting back out to do it again. Advice on how to stay safe on your bike, and what to do if that advice doesn’t work. Aussie shock jocks are blamed for a bike lane backlash. Australian police crack down on rogue cyclists. A search for the best biking city Down Under. A Yokohama bike lane is a real obstacle course. A Japanese construction crane operator is arrested for hit-and-run in the death of an 11-year old bike rider; yes, a construction crane.

Finally, you can now protect yourself from the sun while you turn your helmet into a giant sombrero, but would it block the view from your built-in cam? Here’s the perfect bluegrass-flavored soundtrack for your next ride.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, just try to keep your jaw from hitting the floor when a mountain bike racer goes horizontal off a billboard to take the win.

Was the brother of a Gardena bike theft victim murdered by the cops sent to help them?

Maybe those riders in Gardena are lucky they only got ticketed for blocking the lane.

It was suspicious enough when Gardena police blew away the brother of the victim — yes, victim — of a bike theft last month, because they couldn’t be bothered to let him explain that the bike-riding men they’d detained were friends who were helping to look for his brothers bike.

And yes, he said it in English, according to witnesses.

Somehow, the patrons at a nearby restaurant were able to understand Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino clearly. But the cops couldn’t seem to make it out, claiming he was shouting and gesturing before reaching towards his waistband.

So they shot him.

Eight times.

Including twice in the back.

One of those non-bike theft friends was also shot. And yes, also in the back.

Maybe they have a problem with backward shooting trick shot artists down there.

Never mind that the officers shot and killed an unarmed man. Or the recklessness they showed in opening fire just feet from of a crowded Redondo Beach Boulevard restaurant.

At best, it looks like an incredibly bad shoot by a trio of trigger happy cops. At worst, they may have murdered the brother of a petty crime victim

I cannot repeat that enough. They killed someone helping the victim of the crime.

And now those officers are back on the street after being placed on administrative leave.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stay the hell out of Gardena for the foreseeable future.

And whatever you do, don’t report a crime there.

Correction: An earlier draft said police had killed the victim of the bike theft, which had been my understanding. However, this story from the Daily Breeze makes it clear that the man who was killed, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, was the brother of the man who had his bike stolen, and was assisting in the search for the stolen bike. Thanks to Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman for the correction.

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Meanwhile, in yet another black mark on the city’s police department — which still hasn’t been able to catch the killer of hit-and-run victim Benjamin Torres — Streetsblog’s Damien Newton writes that you shouldn’t expect justice in the case of the LAPD Sargent whose daughter is charged with killing bike-riding postal worker Jesse Dotson in a hit-and-run.

That’s because Gardena police aren’t even investigating the father, even though she was driving his car, which was later reported stolen. And oddly, discovered just blocks away from their home.

As Damien put it,

He either believes his daughter’s ridiculous story and is one of the worst investigative officers ever, or he is complicit in the scheme to report the car stolen.

Yeah, no point in investigating that.

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Bike racer Emma Pooley says it’s long past time that women bike racers were allowed to compete equally with the men — in fact, they used to just a few decades back, both in the Tour de France and America’s late, great Red Zinger/Coors Classic.

If you agree women belong in a parallel Le Tour — let alone the Amgen Tour of California and the upcoming USA Pro Challenge — sign the petition here.

I did.

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A new bike and pedestrian bridge over the LA River on its way to approval by the LA City Council may make a planned Glendale bridge superfluous. The county breaks ground on a new segment of LA River pathway in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. The Source is enthusiastic about bike trains. Participants in Friday’s Zócalo Public Square/Grand Park forum call for a cease fire between bicyclists and drivers. Tell that to the papers of the Los Angeles News Group, who continue to troll for bike hate, this time questioning if LA commuters will ever bike to work, in a negatively worded poll. A Pasadena bike rider suffers life threatening injuries in a head-on collision with a salmon cyclist. Boyonabike looks at cars and the environment. Ride with the mayor of Montebello next Sunday. Over 500 riders turn out for the first ever Long Beach women’s only Beach Babe Classic. A Santa Clarita cyclist suffers a broken back in a hit-and-run; the driver turned himself in four hours later, apparently at the urging of family members. The San Diego Union-Tribune endorses efforts to promote bicycling in the county. Evidently, you don’t have to be sane to have a drivers license in California, with predictable results.

Scion thinks you’re an obstacle, but they’re really, really sorry about it. Elly Blue says our roads are depreciating, too. Do bike shops just market to white males? Cycle chic is already a thing; you can’t co-opt it by adding “ing,” even if helmets really are becoming more fashionable. Five innovative ways to park a bike. Using a bike as a weapon is no different from using a car as a weapon, except for the results. Famed researcher John Pucher says it’s time for a bike renaissance in Seattle. The Boulder CO sheriff says the road rage brake check that left a leading triathlete seriously injured wasn’t. An aggressive road-raging, horn-blaring, multi-car passing Colorado driver films his own apoplectic outrage at a group of bicyclists. Turns out you can’t use your car as a weapon to run down a bike riding, cigarette-stealing Wisconsin thief, after all. Even a protected bike lane isn’t enough to protect a Chicago bike rider. Michigan police arrest a 12-year old bike riding bank robber. Thanks to our veto-wielding governor, California can’t even get a three-foot passing law; a Maine writer says three-feet isn’t enough. Lesson #1: Try not to share the same stretch of asphalt as your boyfriend’s crazed, motor-maniacal ex. Upstate New York triathlete killed when he rides into the back of a parked car; another is seriously injured while exchanging water bottles. A pair of bike-riding Pennsylvania teenagers rescue a kidnapped five-year old girl; thanks to D.D. Syrdal for the heads-up. The next broken down bike rider you see could be Dave Matthews on his way to his own show, and you could get front row tickets if you stop. Seriously, no matter how pissed off you are about the 70-something driver who nearly hit you, don’t try to punch him out. A nice piece from Bike Delaware explains why you may be invisible to some drivers.

A British pub owner is really, really sorry he threatened to run down “weak-kneed” cyclists at 60 mph. Half of all Brits admit to road rage; maybe that’s why someone is pushing people off bikes in Leicester. With a week left, the Tour de France may already be over, as Froome looks unbeatable. Cadel Evans tweets advice on how to watch a bike race safely. A year after she quit racing, American Mara Abbott is a two-time winner of Italy’s prestigious Giro Rosa. Lexus rolls out a one million-yen limited edition bike; yawn.

Finally, what do you do after leaving City Council? Former Councilmember Ed Reyes rides a bike. And it looks like Westfield Century City will soon open LA’s first bike station; more on that later.

Westfield Bike Station

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