Tag Archive for justice denied

Failed justice — alleged street racing killer of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado gets off with just 90 days in jail

Pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado, a victim of our streets. And our legal system.

Sorry Jorge.

America let you down.

Or more precisely, San Bernardino County let you down, along with a court system that inexplicably denied you the justice you deserved.

You came to this country to live out your dream of becoming a professional cyclist. We sent you back in a coffin, the victim of two then-high school students who couldn’t manage to keep their feet off the gas pedal.

And then let the driver who killed you off with the barest slap on the wrist, as if your all-to-brief life had no meaning or value.

Less time than he might have gotten for killing a dog, in fact.

A lot less.

It was over two years ago, in April, 2010, that you were riding on Greenspot Road in Highland, just north of San Bernardino, training for your new role as a rider for the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team, founded by Compton’s own former national crit champion Raahsaan Bahati.

It was your big break.

A chance to prove yourself as a rising rider on a new pro team with a then-promising future.

You had no way of knowing, as you rode along that country road, that your dream would end at age 27, in the field on your right.

Maybe you reacted to those cars zooming towards you. driving far too fast. You probably saw one try to pass the other at around 80 mph, and watched in horror as the other driver cut hard to the left to keep him from passing. That sent the first car, driven by Patrick Roraff, back to the right, where he hit the shoulder and lost control, skidding across the road directly into you.

You probably hit your brakes and tried to swerve.

But it was too late.

At that speed, nothing you did or might have done would have made any difference.

I wonder if you muttered an obscenity as you saw the situation unfold. Or did you whisper one last prayer, or the name of a loved one just before the out-of-control car barreled into you, slamming you into the bushes on your right?

Were you aware of what was happening? Did you know you were dying there alone on the side of the road, thousands of miles from the people you loved?

Or did you slip mercifully into oblivion, a loss of consciousness masking the pain from your broken body?

The young men who took your life were arrested, and eventually, charged with your murder.

But that’s where the wheels of justice seemed to slowly slip off the tracks.

The long wait for charges to be filed combined with endless legal delays to push any promise of justice back time and again.

Meanwhile, Roraff and co-defendant Brett Michael Morin, who was driving the other car, were able to graduate from Redlands East Valley High School. And even with a pending homicide charge, Roraff remained the star of his high school soccer team, and went on to play soccer at the University of Redlands. Perhaps foreshadowing the leniency to come, the judge even gave permission for him to travel to Texas with his team.

God forbid that killing another person should be enough to negatively impact someone’s athletic career.

Even though yours ended that day at Roraff’s hands.

To be fair, he did say he was sorry.

It looked, ever so briefly, like you were going to get the justice you deserved when Patrick Roraff finally changed his plea to guilty. Given the seriousness of the charges — felony vehicular homicide with gross negligence and a serious felon enhancement — he should have faced serious prison time.

But he doesn’t.

Instead, the judge imposed a sentence that is far closer to a pat on the back than a slap on the wrist.

Roraff was sentenced on Monday to just 90 days in jail, with three years probation, along with community service.

Ninety lousy days. And probably a lot less than that, given this state’s over-crowded jails.

That’s less that three months for what was initially described as an illegal street race  — a felony in the state of California, by the way, for which neither driver was charged — resulting in a man’s death.

And let’s be clear. This was not an accident.

Your death was the entirely foreseeable consequence of a conscious decision to use two potentially deadly motor vehicles as oversized Hot Wheels toys.

You were just collateral damage.

The court used this case to send a message — that killing another human being while recklessly endangering the public is no big deal.

So go ahead and do whatever the hell you want on the roads, because there won’t be any serious consequences.

Especially if you have athletic skills, evidently.

They might as well have thrown Roraff a party for decreasing the excess cyclist population in the county.

It matters.

Not just because you were denied the justice you so richly deserved. But because cyclists are vulnerable on the streets, subject to the whims and careless actions of those with whom we share them.

It’s the protection we receive from the police and courts — or don’t — that dictates whether those streets will be survivable. And on that count, this court failed us miserably, putting every cyclist at greater risk.

Maybe Roraff is deserving of a second chance. But by failing to give him the sort of sentence his crime called for, the legal system missed an opportunity to show things like this can’t, and won’t, be tolerated.

And making it that much more likely that it will happen again.

There’s no word on when Roraff will begin his sentence.

It’s possible that his jail time may be delayed so he can compete again this season. If not, he’ll do his time, and be free to play again; maybe even transferring to a larger school now that this is no longer hanging over his head.

Why he received this gift from the court, I have no idea. I could speculate, but it would be nothing but a guess.

And not a pretty one, at that.

The sudden guilty plea suggests that this may have been a plea bargain. If so, I would question whether any District Attorney who signed off on a deal like this is fit to remain in office.

If not, I hope local voters will keep this case in mind when the judge comes up for reelection.

And why Roraff’s co-defendant continues to fight his charges when he could get a sweet deal like this is beyond me.

Maybe he’s not a star athlete.

To say I’m disgusted is to put it mildly.

I’m sorry, Jorge Alvarado.

We failed you.

You deserved better. You deserved justice.

But like far too many people who needlessly die while riding a bike, you’re not going to get it.

And absolutely nothing about this case will keep it from happening again.

……..

Update: Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels fills in some of the blanks in this case.

According to information on the website for the San Bernardino County Superior Court, the sentence was imposed by judge William Jefferson Powell, who was appointed to the court by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Roraff was sentenced to 90 days in county jail, and taken into custody immediately after the hearing. Which means he should be back on the streets by early November at the latest, followed by three years of supervised probation; the judge also ordered his license revoked for a period to be determined by the DMV. 

And Roraff was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, half of which must involve discussion of the dangers of reckless driving. 

The terms of his probation also prohibit the possession of deadly weapons; in his case, maybe that should include motor vehicles.

Justice denied in Orange County, Lippman ghost bike removed, and Christine Dahab misses her court date

Long Beach filmmaker Danny Gamboa forwards word that justice has been delayed — if not denied — in the case of Duane Parkison, the San Bernardino detective killed in a hit-from-behind collision while riding in Irvine last year.

A Facebook page demanding justice for Parkison notes that the OC DA’s office has indicated they won’t be filing charges, and implies the driver may be receiving some sort of favorable treatment.

Today I got a call from Mike Lubinski at the OC DA’s office. He is possibly releasing a statement to the press and public as to why they did not file charges and asked if I would like it sent to me. I told him I asked for an official reason two months ago and was told by Tom Glazier that the woman did everything she could to avoid the accident. I told him for this reason I do not trust the DA anyway and do not care to read the statement. I mentioned the “lunch” numerous times and asked if the statement brings up the lunch and he said it does not and did not comment further. So, if anyone wants to read the statement they can request it, and when we put up the website with the police report everyone will be able to draw their own conclusions. As for the “lunch”, stay tuned, we are working on getting answers for that.

It goes on to explain the lunch reference, and notes that the Irvine police have recommended charges.

In my opinion, there have been strange twists in the investigation of this. The Irvine Police Dept. found her at fault for two vehicle violations and recommended a charge of Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter but the OC DA will not file charges. In her transcribed statement to the Irvine PD the driver says she had “lunch with the Deputy Sheriff of San Bernardino County”… “something Hoops?” and she goes on to say “he took my husband and I to lunch and was very kind”. Duane was on vacation and this did not occur in the jurisdiction of San Bernardino County so why would anyone have “lunch” with the driver? The family would like to see this “lunch” investigated. For more information, please come to the “Justice for Duane Parkison” facebook page.

It does raise questions as to why the DA is apparently ignoring the recommendations of the Irvine police in this case.

Call me crazy, but I thought it was up to a judge and jury to decide whether she actually did everything she could to avoid the collision.

………

An anonymous reader sends word that the ghost bike installed for fallen cyclist Roger Lippman has already been removed — evidently by the heartless folks at Caltrans, who don’t seem to want any reminders of how dangerous their roadways really are.

Roger Lippman’s ghost bike is gone.  It was there yesterday, but gone this morning.  The fake purple flowers I had woven into the post it was chained to were left lying on the sand.

I specifically chose purple after a quote from the book The Color Purple.  According to the character Celie, the Lord knows purple is pretty and that’s exactly why he puts so little of it in the world. He’s “just wanting to share a good thing.  I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” Well, imagine how pissed He is whenever some idiot fails to notice His master work, which He created in his own image, just because a goddam text or “one for the road” is so much more important.  I kind of imagine that the Joel Alexander Murphys of the world will be bitchslapped straight out through the back wall of the universe if they hop on the “up” elevator by mistake.

………

Dj Wheels offers a couple of legal updates.

First up is the news that a bench warrant has been put on hold for Christine Dahab after she failed to appear for a scheduled court date. Dahab is the driver charged with felony DUI and DWI after plowing into a group of late night riders in Culver City last year, injuring 13 riders; an LAPD officer investigating the case suggested that the collision was the riders fault for evidently staging a drunken orgy in the street.

Wheels speculates that her failure to appear may be related to Dahab’s pregnancy; if she doesn’t appear by August 16th, a warrant for her arrest will be issued.

Meanwhile, road raging Angeles Crest driver Earl Cox is going to trial as we speak.

………

LAPD reminds everyone to be on the lookout for the driver who killed Paul Albert Helfen in an early morning Nordhoff Street hit-and-run on June 22nd. And notes there’s a $50,000 reward for information.

If you don’t want to get involved, send the information to me. I’d love to get this SOB off the streets.

And I could use the money.

………

Great Streetsblog profile of the cycling group Cast a Shadow, riding next week to raise funds for clean water in Africa.

………

LACBC’s former award-winning City of Lights program is transforming into a new organization to be called Multicultural Communities for Mobility. KPCC offers a great report on last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle midnight singlespeed drag race;, while a rider captures a helmet cam view. Santa Monica bike advocates and staffers question funding for the city’s ambitious bike action plan. After losing his father to the disease, an Israeli man rides from Malibu to NYC to fight cancer. A Long Beach cyclist pedals his bike across the country in 46 days, and chronicles his story in an e-book.

Corona cyclists won’t see sharrows on the coast highway until fall. A Newport Beach rider writes about where it all went wrong in the first part of a first-person story. Bike SD reports that a San Diego cyclist is on life support following a June hit-and-run. San Diego is joining the rest of the civilized world in scrapping its bike licensing program. An Ocean Beach writer says if you’re going to ride, follow the rules. A tax on sugar could have unintended consequences for cyclists who use sports drinks, bars and gels. A Santa Cruz writer says parents should set an example for their kids by wearing a helmet. Lodi cyclists will soon get new artistic bike racks. The 18-month old Fresno girl critically injured in the drunken crosswalk collision that killed her 7-year old sister and injured their father has come out of a medically-induced coma; the driver had a .11 BAC. A Modesto teacher is killed in a left cross while riding in Santa Cruz at around 40 mph, after the driver says he never saw him; thanks to Brian Skaggs and Don Blount for the heads-up. Campbell CA cyclists are reeling from two bicycling fatalities in just 30 hours. Bad roads will continue to contribute to collisions for cyclists, and everyone else on them, according to a Bay Area report. A Bay to L.A. bike tour will take place this month to support Prop 37, requiring the labeling of genetically modified organisms.

Crashing and the five stages of grief. A Seattle cyclist steals his bike back a year after it was stolen, no thanks to the police. Minnesota attempts to ease cycling with a new mobile app. A 90-year old WI driver faces charges after running down a cyclist while mistakenly driving on a separated bike path. A New York cyclist builds his own protected bike lane to keep cops from double parking in it. Nine New York cyclists share their favorite rides in the city. The New York Post rabidly says pull the plug as NYC’s bike share hits a minor speed bump. Once again, a NY cyclist is critically injured, but it’s nobody’s fault. Charlotte’s new bike share system will be a legacy of the Democratic National Convention. A Michigan cyclist on a cross-country tour is killed by semi-truck in Georgia. A Florida rider is found guilty of illegally leaving a bike lane — with about 30 other riders — despite the testimony of the rider they were passing, because the judge believed the blind man officer who didn’t see the rider they were passing.

Montreal police are investigating whether a driver intentionally ran down a cyclist after yelling at him to use the bike path. A UK driver is convicted of killing a bike riding father of three while showing off for a woman; it was his second hit-and-run in six years. Motherhood and Olympic cycling medals do mix after all. American cycling scion Taylor Phinney firmly establishes himself as the fourth best cyclist in the Games, after finishing just off the podium in both the road race and the time trial. Gold medalist and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins backs mandatory helmet laws  — or maybe not — after a cyclist is run over by a bus, even though a helmet would not have helped in the slightest in this case. The London Times offers an even-handed look at the debate. The London Telegraph says the time for talking has stopped and it’s time to actually do something about bike safety. Scottish traffic cameras cut accident and injury rates. Funding bike advocacy could help the bike industry sell 30 million more bikes. An Aussie cyclist crashes because his coffee was too hot. Brisbane police are on the lookout for a spitting cyclist.

Finally, once again, Bikeyface nails it. And are you a velocapitalist?

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