Tag Archive for Orange County Sheriffs Department

OC Sheriff threatens to victimize an Orange County cyclist a second time; road raging driver allowed to walk

Prepare to get mad.

Or maybe livid is a better word.

Just a day after a widely circulated open letter called on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to charge a truck driver who used his vehicle as a weapon to threaten a cyclist, the department recommended that charges be filed.

Against the victim.

According to the LA Times, Bryan Larsen was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point on May 31st when he captured video of a truck driver attempting to run him off the road before the passenger — who turned out to be the driver’s wife — hits him with a thrown Gatorade bottle; they then try to smoke him out as they took off.

Maybe she thought he looked thirsty.

Larsen was originally told that no charges could be filed because sheriff’s deputies did not actually witness the assault themselves.

Which is not true, of course.

Police are required to witness an event in order to file a traffic violation or misdemeanor charge; however, there’s no such requirement for felony charges. And using a large truck to intimidate a vulnerable road user should certainly qualify.

I’ve also been told by members of other departments that video footage can be used as evidence, as well as eye witness testimony. At the time, Larsen was riding with another cyclist who could verify everything seen on the video.

After the video went viral and was picked up by local news stations, the sheriff’s department reconsidered and conducted an investigation. Though based on the results, not much of one.

Even though the driver reportedly used his massive truck as a weapon to threaten the rider and attempt to force him off the road, they declined to charge him with anything. At all.

Instead, the Orange County Register reports they recommended that the OC District Attorney file an assault and battery charge against the driver’s wife.

And that charges be filed against the victim for apparently inciting the attack through his use of obscene language directed at the couple.

Charges are also being recommended against the bicyclist, he said, who is suspected of using “offensive words in public, likely to provoke a violent reaction.” Officials suspect the cyclist made “rude, disparaging comments” before the incident was recorded on his cellphone, (Lt. Jeff) Hallock said.

This, despite the fact the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive language and gestures are protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment. And even though Hallock makes it clear investigators are only assuming that Larson said something so offensive as to justify a violent attack with a deadly weapon.

As if anything could.

Would they still feel the driver was justified if he had pulled out a gun and started shooting at the cyclist? Legally, there’s no difference; only the choice of weapon used.

And never mind what actually precipitated the event. Unless Larsen suffers from a rare form of Tourette’s Syndrome or mental illness that forced him to swear without any provocation, he was clearly responding to something the driver had done before the camera started recording.

What, we may never know, since the threat of criminal charges will now force him to remain silent. Which is probably the real intent.

Legally, there’s no valid case against him. So the question becomes, why is the OCSD trying so hard to intimidate the victim of a violent crime — while letting the primary perpetrator off scott-free?

And what does it say to every other bike rider south of the Orange Curtain when even video evidence isn’t good enough to get the authorities to give a damn about our safety — let alone threaten us for reporting it?

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her department are sending a clear message to everyone who travels by two wheels that we remain second-class citizens in her jurisdiction.

And if something bad happens on her watch, just keep your mouth shut about it.

Or else.

Morning Links: Santa Monica cracks down on cyclists again; OCSD drags its feet charging threatening driver

Once again, police in bike friendly Santa Monica show a less friendly face to cyclists.

As they have done in recent years, the department announced a crackdown on law-breaking bike riders in the month of July, as part of a rotating focus on behavior they believe causes traffic collisions. Even though they say the other party is usually at fault when it comes to bike wrecks.

Just a slight logical disconnect there.

But the real problem is that bike riders are people, not behaviors. And that makes the crackdown questionable, at best.

The department has every right to ticket cyclists who violate the law, just as they do anyone else on the road. And we’ve all seen reckless riders who probably deserve to be written up by making the roadway more dangerous for themselves and everyone around them.

The problem comes when they target their actions at a specific group, rather than a specific type of violation.

If the SMPD were to focus on people who fail to observe red lights and stop signs, for instance, they could justifiably ticket everyone who failed to stop, on a bike, on foot or in a motor vehicle. But directing their efforts towards a specific group, whether bicyclists, motorists or hipsters with handlebar mustaches makes it selective enforcement.

And that’s against the law.

They are required to treat everyone equally, without regard to race, creed, color, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. Or mode of transportation.

They can no more single out cyclists for selective enforcement than they can anyone else.

That’s not my opinion. That comes directly from conversations I’ve had with high-ranking members of other, apparently more enlightened local departments, including the LAPD.

Evidently, Santa Monica didn’t get the memo.

In the meantime, I’d recommend holding on to that news story announcing the crackdown.

Because that could be your best defense if you get a ticket while riding in Santa Monica this month.

……..

Bike safety website Look! Save A Life offers an open letter to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which has been dragging its feet in investigating the driver who was caught on viral video threatening the life of cyclist Bryan Larsen in Dana Point.

As the letter points out, while officers are normally required to witness a traffic violation in order to ticket the driver, this goes far beyond a mere traffic infraction. And similar video evidence has been used to charge drivers across the country for threatening bike riders.

There should be no question that a charge of assault with a deadly weapon is more than warranted in this case. The only question is why it hasn’t been filed already.

The proof is there. All they have to do is view the video.

And take the safety of cyclists seriously.

……..

A fund has been established to help pay burial expenses for 12-year old fallen San Bernardino bike rider Tewon Woods. Sadly, as this goes online, it has only raised $112 out of a hoped for $5000.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link. 

……….

Marcel Kittel takes the first stage of the Tour de France’s UK start, but Mark Cavendish suffers a separated shoulder in a crash and has to abandon the tour. Nibali wins the second stage, while the peloton asks fans to just back off. And stop taking selfies, already.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire has it’s own unique ways to welcome the first UK start of Le Tour.

And instead of starting his first TdF, cycling scion Taylor Phinney faces a long and painful road to recovery.

……..

Local

Knitting the city together, bike lane by bike lane.

A new road diet and bike lanes are coming to Pacific Ave in San Pedro.

Construction begins on a new bike lane and bike route improvements in west Malibu.

Pasadena is formally studying protected bikeways in the city.

Carlos Morales and the Eastside Bike Club lead a Riff Raff Ride into snooty San Marino over the holiday weekend, the San Gabriel Valley town too good for bike lanes and the people who use them.

 

State

Get a discount on registration for the Bike MS Coastal Challenge: Santa Monica to Santa Barbara through July 13th.

Laguna residents band together to demand safer streets following the death of cyclist Greg Colvin.

You wouldn’t think you’d have to worry about getting killed by a drunk driver in Auburn at 6:40 on a Friday morning. But you’d be wrong.

 

National

Science says bicycling can help you lead a happier, healthier life and make you a better person. But we already knew that, right?

A single Universal Bike frame adjusts to fit multiple riders and riding style configurations. But how does it ride?

Lenient and/or uncaring courts keep a dangerous New Mexico driver on the road, despite killing a cyclist and multiple DWI arrests.

Someone is vandalizing an Albuquerque ghost bike, apparently because his widow is speaking out to demand justice.

 

International

Someone is sabotaging Vancouver Island streets by stringing fishing line where they can severely injure bike riders.

An anonymous writer for the Guardian says the worst thing about bicycling is other cyclists.

Dublin is installing special bicycle traffic lights to give cyclists a jump on traffic at busy intersections.

Bangalore gets protected bike lanes.

An average of three bike riders a day are knocked off their bikes in Australia’s New South Wales.

 

Finally…
In an absolutely disgusting assault, a car passenger uses a high-powered urine-filled water gun to soak a bike rider after signaling him to come over. A Winnipeg rider crashes into a parked car, then stabs the driver when he gets out to see if the cyclist is okay.

And NPR’s Scott Simon tweets himself in the foot by equating scofflaw cyclists and Lance Armstrong to demonize us all.

Seriously, Scott, you should know better.

 

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