Tag Archive for justice delayed

Banks trial delayed again, German gets 15 years for killing bike rider Bihn Ngo, and Stop As Yield bill goes to governor

Let’s start with a few more notes from our anonymous correspondent, while we wait for her next update from the Scarpa murder trial.

Well, on October 1st, Mariah Kandise Banks has yet another reset for a preliminary hearing in the hit-and-run death of Frederick “Woon” Frasier. Time to review matters is needed by both the latest Deputy DA assigned to her case AND the counsel Banks has chosen to replace her previous, recently deceased defense attorney. This gives Miss Banks a spell to recover, as she seemed to be under the weather with a deep, phlegmy cough. (I wish I would have double-masked.)

I spoke briefly to the DA. He stated that he had personally spoken to Woon’s mama, and I am skeptical, because if I were the mother of the deceased I would absolutely have mentioned that the perpetrator’s social media shows her in violation of the terms of her bail, but the DA did not forward any such mention to the judge.

Judge Erika Estrada is the new judge presiding over courtroom 38, as Judge Hobbs has been assigned to a different one. I am furious on behalf of the Foltz court staffers who have died of COVID that, last summer, Hobbs chose to let a witness testify without a mask. Especially since the witness was a cop, and local law enforcement agencies have had a statistically high infection rate among their members. Ugh. So disappointing.

(Ed. note: Peter Flax wrote movingly about Woon’s death, and his mother’s long-delayed fight for justice, which is now two years longer. 

………

Repeat drunk driver and former bartender Justin Scott German, who ran down Binh Ngo in 2017, accepted a plea bargain last week. He left Ngo’s broken body and parts of his shiny red Mustang lying in the road. Family members who noticed his incomplete vehicle also noted details in the news of a local crash. They asked a neighbor (a retired police officer) how to proceed, and he called it in.

German has been sentenced to 15 years in state prison; 10 for murder and an additional 5 for hit-and-run, to be served consecutively. Currently he’s chillin’ in county until next week, when he has his arbitrary firearms relinquishment hearing.

………

My laptop fried to a crisp last month, and I had nothing backed up.

Nothing.

Most of my court notes are hand scribbled, and my day planner’s good ol’ hard copy too, so there’s some consolation.

But I had been collecting basic info bits for a mapping project, and they are irretrievable.

Several years ago, a nonprofit bike agency back east (Bike Baltimore maybe?) had a map documenting collisions of cars vs buildings. I understand the importance of such an endeavor, because those selfish buildings aren’t licensed, and have you ever seen one wearing a helmet? Ever?!? Every year, these damn buildings inflict hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of dollars worth of damage to vehicles. HOW DARE THEY?!? They must be publicly shamed!

Anyway. I had begun documenting collisions involving buildings and assorted public infrastructure. Like the Edison pole on Huntington Drive that a speeder knocked into a backyard swimming pool on a sunny weekend afternoon. Another collision on Huntington Drive Wednesday involved a collision with an LA County Fire rig, which sent a Toyota into someone’s yard. And the hydrant (one of about 900 annually in LA County alone) that got sheared on Alameda on Sunday. And the fence at the Long Beach DMV that got taken out Monday, never mind the fence at the Hollywood post office. And these apartments, whose occupants should’ve just stayed out of the way. Did I mention some geezer tried to turn my local drugstore into a drive-thru?

These things happen ALL. THE. TIME. and rarely make the news. We just shrug, repair the property, and move on. C’est la vie. So it goes. Pertinent Onion headline.

Photo shows Bank’s alleged victim Frederick “Woon” Frazier in better days.

………

Now we can all breathe a little easier.

It looks like AB 122 has been approved by the state assembly, after it was revised in the senate.

https://twitter.com/JeremyBWhite/status/1433185054750953473

Now it’s on to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature. But even if he’s recalled, it looks like he’ll have more than a month after the election to sign the bill.

So I wouldn’t expect any news until after the September 14th recall election, as he’s likely to avoid action that could give anyone a reason to vote yes.

Even if research does show it’s safer for bike riders to yield instead of stop.

Thanks to Bicycling Monterey’s Mari Lynch for the recall info.

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Yes, former LA Councilmember Marvin Braude was one of us.

And there’s a reason why the beachfront bike path is named after him.

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Nothing like letting a hit-and-run driver get away with it, just because they got away with it.

https://twitter.com/BarbChamberlain/status/1433100471057539080

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

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It looks like there really is a war on cars, after all. But this time, it’s Mother Nature who’s looking for revenge.

https://twitter.com/motorisms/status/1433260352209309699

Seriously, though, let’s all say a few prayers and send some good thoughts to everyone affected by Hurricane Ida and it’s remaining remnants. Even the ones in cars. 

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

No bias here. An Iowa radio personality complains that the state’s bicyclists are dangerously out of control, before noting that it’s just a small minority that causes the problems. But they should stay out of his way.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

A New Jersey man was lucky to escape with two months behind bars and three years probation for breaking the jaw of a man with a disability, after an argument that began as he rode his bike by the victim. And ended when he circled back on his bike to punch the guy in the face. See hell, special place, for attacking someone with a disability. Schmuck.

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Local

No news is good news, right?

 

State

Spectrum News 1 looks forward to California’s forthcoming $10 million ebike rebate program.

Kern County is hoping to salvage a plan to extend the eastern end of the Kern River bike path by avoiding the golf course that scuttled earlier plans. Or better yet, just seize the place by eminent domain, and build affordable housing on the damn thing. And the bike path.

This year’s Eroica California has been postponed until next year, and the 2021 Mammoth Gran Fondo has been cancelled, due to the closure of national forest lands and the strain on firefighting resources.

 

National

Amazon is recalling 860 TurboSke Kids Toddler bike helmets sold through the site because they don’t meet CPSC helmet standards; only size small helmets are affected.

While European shipping companies have been quick to embrace e-cargo bikes, their American counterparts are dragging their feet. For reason’s that should be obvious to anyone who’s paid attention to the lack of safe infrastructure and the sorry state of our streets. 

A Portland woman discusses how she learned to quiet her demons and keep riding through her pregnancy.

A 16-year old Idaho boy completed the nearly 1,200-mile Silk Road Mountain Race through the mountains of northwest Kyrgyzstan, finishing in 11 days and nine hours. So what were you doing at 16?

There’s a special place in hell for anyone who would steal a custom-made adaptive bike from a Minneapolis man with a disability. Or any other adaptive bicycle, for that matter.

Tragic news from Queens, where a nine-year old boy was killed in a fire started by charging an ebike battery. No word on what kind of bike or battery was involved.

A New Jersey monument preserves the actual brakeless, fixed gear, steel frame, wooden-wheel bicycle ridden to victory in the first Tour of Somerville race 81 years ago.

A Pittsburgh bike rider confirms that when it comes to protected bike lanes, if you build it, they will come.

That’s more like it. A stoned and drinking Pennsylvania driver will spend up to eleven years behind bars for critically injuring a 13-year old boy riding a bicycle; over a year later, the boy still requires 24-hour care for a traumatic brain injury.

A bike-riding Mississippi woman was apparently killed by a sentient, self-driving 30-year old pickup. Otherwise, the story would have mentioned that the damn thing had a driver. Right?

 

International

Road.cc says new theories changing occupational health and safety could improve road safety, as well as eliminating the attitude of us versus them on our streets.

Mérida, Yucatan is moving forward with plans to build a bike lane network equal to 10% of the 2,900-mile road space devoted to cars. That should be the minimal goal for any city, anywhere.

Kate and William’s kids are all one of us, as Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis spent the summer taking long walks, fishing and riding horses and bikes on an extended stay with the queen in her Scottish retreat. Although the 95-year old queen probably didn’t ride bikes with them.

A UK bike mechanic is giving back to the country’s health workers fighting the pandemic by repairing stolen bikes recovered by the police, and giving them to National Health Service staffers who’ve had their own bikes stolen.

No surprise here, as Copenhagen is once again ranked the world’s most bike-friendly city, followed by Tallinn, Estonia and Amsterdam. Mad City was the only American city to make the list at #27, just behind Ottawa, Canada.

Dutch ebike maker VanMoof has raised a whopping $182 million over the past two years — not counting crowdfunding campaigns — making it the world’s most funded ebike company.

Proof of concept. An Austrian industrial design student has put over 620 miles on his bizarre looking circular-framed touring bike that folds out into its own camper.

A Malaysian website remembers the legendary Lion of Malaya, who fought the Japanese during WWII by smuggling leaflets hidden in the hollow tubes of his bicycle.

 

Competitive Cycling

To the surprise of no one, Primož Roglič is back in the Vuelta’s red leader’s jersey as the race returned to the mountains for a couple intense stages, over two minutes ahead of second place Enric Mas. American Sepp Kuss is five minutes back after fighting off challengers to finish second in yesterday’s 17th stage.

Oddly named Norwegian cyclist Odd Christian Eiking probably won’t have to worry about making sure they get his name right on the Vuelta trophy anymore, after slipping off the red jersey and out of the top ten.

USA Cycling announced the roster for the road world championships in Flanders later this month; Amber Neben is questionable after she was left-crossed by a driver while riding on PCH in Corona Del Mar two weeks ago, breaking her pelvis in three place.

American paracyclist Oksana Masters won two road cycling golds in two days at the Tokyo Paralympics, despite never having won a previous road race.

Red Bull looks back at the rapid evolution of mountain bikes over the 20-year history of the Red Bull Rampage.

 

Finally…

Your next ebike might not have a chain, belt or anything else connecting the crank with the wheel. If it doesn’t have pedals, it ain’t an ebike.

And why you should never mess with a Victorian woman on a bicycle.

………

Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

Cutting through the confusion — LAPD clarifies why driver wasn’t cited in last week’s right hook wreck

Call it a case of miscommunication.

Last week’s failure to ticket the driver who right hooked Melanie Freeland as she biked to work — despite being witnessed by two police officers — quickly went from bad to worse.

As Freeland questioned why the driver wasn’t ticketed for failing to signal and yield the right-of-way as required by law, it quickly devolved into a desk officer arguing with her and refusing to put through her call to the bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division.

And led to an explanation from the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the collision that made it appear that most police officers are prohibited from writing traffic tickets, even if they witness the incident.

Or maybe not.

That bike liaison in question, LAPD Central Traffic Division’s Sgt. Laszlo Sandor, went to great lengths to clarify matters at last night’s regularly scheduled bike liaison meeting, which evolved from the department’s long-standing bike task force.

First off, the officers who witnessed the collision could have written a ticket on the spot. The reason they didn’t wasn’t that they didn’t have specific training in traffic law, as Freeland had understood from the Watch Commander’s explanation. It was that they were due in court, and had to hand the case off to someone else to avoid the wrath of an angry judge.

Or worse, having their case dismissed.

Secondly, Freeland reported that the Watch Commander had described a Catch 22 that would seem to prevent most patrol officers from writing a ticket in virtually any situation.

She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.

In other words, as she understood it, in order to issue a ticket at the scene, an officer must 1) actually witness the infraction, and 2) have specialized training in traffic investigations.

Which counts out the overwhelming majority of officers on the street.

Well, almost.

As Sgt. Sandor explained, there are two ways a driver — or a bike rider or pedestrian, for that matter — can be held accountable for an infraction.

The first is the one we’re all familiar with.

Someone commits an infraction, like running a red light, for instance. An officer sees it, fires up the lights and sirens, and tickets the violator on the spot.

Or in this case, can write a ticket after actually witnessing a collision. Which these officers could have done, but didn’t, for the reason explained above.

The second way is what the Watch Commander evidently tried, and failed, to explain. A driver can be ticketed after the fact if the investigating officer can conclusively determine what actually happened based on witness statements and the evidence at the scene.

But in order to do that, the officer must have specialized training in traffic investigations.

So any officer can write a ticket for any infraction they witness. Or an officer with specialized traffic investigation training can write a ticket or make an arrest after the fact, based on the totality of evidence.

In addition, there are two ways a driver can be held accountable for an infraction.

Again, he or she can be ticketed or arrested, depending on the severity of the infraction. Or the investigating officer can find the driver at fault in the traffic report, in which case the driver won’t face a fine or jail time, but will be charged points against his or her license by the DMV.

That appears to be what happened in Freeland’s case.

So justice was, apparently, won, despite a full week’s worth of aggravation and confusion.

The officers at the meeting suggested that, in some ways, it’s better to have the driver found at fault and have points charged by the DMV, since, unlike a ticket, it can’t be fought in court or dismissed if the officer is unable to attend the hearing.

Although if the driver is convicted, he will still have points charged against his or her license, as well as face additional penalties from the court.

As for the argument with the desk officer, Sgt. Sandor suggested that the officer was actually trying to help, since he — Sandor — was out of the office for several days.

But in the end, we all agreed that it would have been better to simply send the call to his voice mail, rather than appear to screen the bike liaison’s calls.

On the other hand, all of the department’s bike liaisons at the meeting agreed that email was the best way to contact them, rather than calling. Email leaves a written record of the conversation that they can refer to later. And they receive emails on work computers as well as on their personal devices, regardless of whether they are in the office.

And one more thing.

This morning I received an email from Melanie Freeland, who reported that she was back on her bike and once again riding to work, exactly one week after she was hit by the car.

Now that’s good news.

………

Thanks to Sgt. Sandor for looking into the matter and clarifying a very confusing situation. And thanks to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Colin Bogart, who worked with the LAPD and city officials to assist Freeland in this case.

The LACBC doesn’t often trumpet its victories or the work it does to help individual bike riders — perhaps to its detriment.

But as in the case above, I’ve often witnessed their staff members fighting behind the scenes for the rights of bike riders, whether collectively or on an individual basis. And whether or not they’re members of the coalition.

It’s an organization I’m proud to support and be a part of.

Meanwhile, writing on LA Streetsblog, an LA attorney offers advice on what to do if the police fail to adequately respond to a collision.

No news is good news? Stephanie Segal sentencing delayed

As many of you may know, Stephanie Segal was scheduled to be sentenced yesterday for the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

However, when there was no word last night on the sentencing, I reached out to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels to see if he’d heard anything. As it turned out, he’d already checked with the court clerk, who informed him that the hearing had been continued to November 29th; no reason was given.

Personally, I’m hoping the judge will give us a strict sentence we can be thankful for around Thanksgiving, instead of a terrifying slap on the wrist just before Halloween.

……..

Wheels also reports that Shawn Fields is appealing his seven-year sentence in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin, case number B236186. His opening brief is due in mid-December; however, he’s still waiting for an attorney to be appointed, so expect a delay.

And a trial date has finally been scheduled for Patrick Roraff in the alleged street-racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for December 19, with a trial readiness conference January 20th, and the actual trial is set to begin on January 23rd. As Wheels notes, we’ll have to see how firm those dates turn out to be.

After all, Roraff may have some more soccer matches scheduled.

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