Motorist Doctor Convicted on all counts

[This article about the 2009 Doctor-criminal in LA, has become a repository of these flagrant, intentional acts, with the advent of omnipresent video recording, these incidents which at one time would have just been he-said-she-said types to things and brushed off, are becoming more frequently heard about;  jump down]

In a highly unusual incident, Physician Christopher Thomas Thompson was convicted on all charges in a Los Angeles court, including multiple felonies of intentionally causing a crash that seriously injured two bicyclist.

The story received, understandably, an enormous amount of press, both in the industry and in the mass-media. Velonews ran extensive articles, as did the LA Times. It’s of course also been widely covered in the blogosphere but it is so unusual; I just had to write about it.

“Thompson was convicted of six felonies: two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury as well as reckless driving causing specified injury and mayhem. He was also convicted of misdemeanor reckless driving.”

Somehow, this only tallies to a theoretical maximum of 10 years, which as the story points out, he is unlikely to receive.

Sentencing is Dec 3. (later delayed until Jan 18 according to velonews). I’d hate to see the taxpayers be saddled with the cost of a lengthy prison sentence; I would prefer to see him on house arrest with no possibility of ever driving again.

He apparently has completely ruined his own life: his lawyer in requesting that he be let out until sentencing, but the prosecutor objected saying  “he no longer lives or works in Los Angeles and was likely to lose his medical license soon”.

Sentencing

He got 5 years in prison. Something about facing a max of 8 years. see velonews here and here. I was glad to hear about the lifetime driver’s license revocation; this guy is obviously a dangerous kook when he gets behind the wheel. This revocation leaves me wondering what the deal is with judge’s discretion in sentencing.

“After sentencing Thompson to five years in California state prison, Millington issued a lifetime revocation of the defendant’s drivers license and ordered him to pay restitution to the victims as well.”

more funny things that defense lawyers say: “Thompson claimed that he had merely come to a stop in order to take a photograph of the riders as part of his effort to document what he believed to be a violation of local traffic rules. Thompson’s lawyer had argued that the cyclists were belligerent and may have fallen because of the inherent instability of bicycles

Prior Bad Acts

Pelkey “the Explainer” had a very enlightening column about the rules of evidence involving admissibility of  so-called “prior bad acts”, federal rule 404(B), and so forth.

The Aftermath

In a bit of encouraging news, the LA Times reports In a first, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck vows to better protect cyclists, train officers on biker rights.

Also velonews mentions in July of 2011 that all of Thompson’s appeals have been exhausted. One of the issues was Thompson claimed testimony about his prior bad acts shouldn’t have been allowed; the appeals court disagreed apparently.

Some others

Since these were just gathered from around the country — I’ll just lump them here:

William Crum Hood County, Texas driver charged with two counts aggravated assault

10/20/2015 GRANBURY – It’s the viral video that never gets easier to watch. On Facebook, nearly three million people have watched as a car side-swipes a motorcycle on Tin Top Highway near Granbury as it tries to pass in a no-passing zone… The driver of that car then drops a bombshell on the video. “What were you doing? You hit them!” says the man with the camera. “I don’t care!” says William Crum, 68, the driver of the white car…. Crum was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Monday afternoon. His bond has been set at $150,000  wfaa.com

He later (after saying he didn’t care) claimed the swerve was unintentional, the result of  some sort of insect bite to his groin. It didn’t take long for Crum’s prior bad acts to come to light; including most seriously, a conviction for making terroristic threats stemming from reckless driving for which he spent a couple of years in jail.

Aftermath: He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in April 2017, it was apparently a jury trial and the jury apparently didn’t buy the “wasp” defense. Crum had been in custody ever since the incident.

Michael Franz Raab MD charged with careless driving in June 2015 Sanibel, FL incident — left the scene.

Alleged road rage on Sanibel, cyclist plans to sue

According to the police report, the cyclist had “minor scrapes to both knees, the top of his right wrist, a laceration to his upper right forearm, and a scrape on the right side of his face.” The man behind the wheel, Dr. Michael Franz Raab, drove away.

Sanibel cyclists allege road rage in crash video

A silver Fiat passes a group of bicyclists pedaling along a two-lane stretch of road, the video shows. The driver brakes just in front of the riders, who are pedaling at a fast clip. “Are you serious?” says one bicyclist. Then, the driver halts to a dead stop. There’s a series of clunks. The lead bicyclist tumbles to the ground.
…However, police are [only now?] reviewing the case to see if they can send it to the state attorney’s office to pursue more serious charges.

The civil lawsuit is an interesting twist. In any event the police appear to have buried the case, and not even referred it for prosecution, despite the hit-and-run being self-evident. Other possible criminal charges would appear to be assault, that is, intentionally causing the wreck (or was the driver so scared he needed to slam on the brakes after passing?).
The case seems to have been rather weakly pursued by the Sanibel Police Dept, with Chief William Tomlinson being their spokesperson and excuser-in-chief. That they can’t use certain statements Dr. Raab made doesn’t prevent prosecution, and apparently they (the police) weren’t/aren’t even planning on referring the case for prosecution.

Jerry Doyle Milner DDS arrested

AUSTIN (KXAN) July 16, 2015 –An Austin man has been charged with felony failure to stop and render aid after police say he drove away following a crash with a bicyclist.

The bicyclist told police he had turned southbound onto Jollyville Road from Barrington Way when a man — later identified as 60-year-old Jerry Doyle Milner — honked at him and “yelled” at him to get into the bike lane, according to an arrest affidavit.

The rider said he wasn’t in the bike lane because of overgrown vegetation. The rider also said he yelled back at the driver, at which point the driver got in front of the rider and “slammed on his brakes,” the arrest warrant states.

The bicyclist hit the back of the pickup truck, leaving a dent in the truck. A bystander who was about 100 feet away told police he heard a loud impact and looked over to see the cyclist “flying up onto the rear of Milner’s truck,” according to the warrant. A separate witness told police he was driving behind the Ford F-150 pickup truck when he saw it maneuver in front of the bicyclist and “brake hard,” police said…


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Dennis Reed Caught on Video / charged

Jerk Driver Who Ran Cyclists Off Glendale Road Charged With Assault, Lying To Police: A driver caught on video using his car to assault a pair of cyclists in Glendale has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon. County prosecutors have also charged the driver, identified as Dennis Reed of Toluca Lake, with filing a false police report regarding the incident, according to the Glendale Police Department…

Interesting note, as seems to be typical/usual for these aggressive motorist cases, the driver (now the criminal suspect) said “my attention was just all on this guy who is assaulting me. I was just trying to get away from him.” And he apparently filed a police report claiming it was he, the motorist, who was assaulted; he now stands charged not only with assault w/deadly but with filing a false police report. Kudos to City of Glendale (CA) Police for doing the investigation as well as the LA county prosecutor for taking the matter seriously.

More info at ciclavalley.org, some interesting observations and contains a longer version of the video showing 5 full minutes of what as going on before the motorist assaulted the cyclists. Also at that link is an image of the police report the driver filed; besides apparent falsehoods, it’s filled with the usual nonsense. Will be an interesting case, the guy obviously has money, he would presumably put up a vigorous defense. I don’t know CA criminal codes, but it (assault with deadly weapon) has got to be a felony.  In AZ this charge would be called aggravated assault. I occurs to me many people think assault requires injury but it does not: merely “placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury” is enough to prove the charge.

Kristin Leigh Phillips / Road Rage

This is standard motorist on motorist. Randleman, NC.

Driver Kristin Leigh Phillips is apparently upset the driver in front of her is going too slowly (the speed limit), so she passes, then for several miles varies between going slowly (the limit increase to 55) and completely stopping. To cap it all off, Ms. Phillips jumps out of the car and attacks the other driver, Sherri Norman. Phillips gets charged and pleads to several crimes including reckless driving and assault; gets some probation. Youtube of the stopping and slowing and assualt is here. Comments made by the victim indicate Phillips has done this more than once. No further news stories.

Tack Attack

Va. Beach man convicted in tack attack on bicyclists Dec 13, 2011…
A 49-year-old man who scattered thumbtacks on Pungo roads that flattened dozens of bicyclists’ tires must spend 16 days in jail… Warren Dean Davis Jr. pleaded guilty late last month to 25 misdemeanor charges of destruction of property… (his lawyer said) Davis was frustrated by the bicycles at the time of the incidents

Closer to home, tacks were noted in Tuscon area (mt lemmon / catalina highway) in 2013 and 2015; no suspects were ever located.

Ronald Levi Hughes Alabama / Road Rage

51-year-old Ronald Levi Hughes of Moody, AL 7/31/2016 road rage incident ended with the driver running over the bicycle. Highway 78 heading toward Birmingham. The driver is charged with reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief. Here’s a google street view of what US-78 looks like. In the hall of shame, inflaming matters is Rob Ford-wannabe Centerville, UT city councilman Bill Ince who says people should ‘run them (bicyclists) off the road‘. He says later he was just kidding. The news article indicates he has no idea of proper, lawful lane position, and just wants bicyclists out of his way.

Robert Lewis / Road Rage

Corona Del Mar, ~ Aug 10, 2016. Besides the obvious road rage displayed by the driver in the aftermath; the police (Newport Beach CA)  initially refused to take a report (“I went to the NBPD and spoke with officer XXXX in the lobby. He did not want to take a report. “), despite what seems like clear threats. Apparently the police then were shamed into investigating; see news piece where the driver “apologizes”, though he doesn’t let on that what he did (before the screaming) was or could have been wrong, or that there’s a reason there are sharrows/Shared lane markings there, or what sharrows mean.

 

Partial transcript between Robert Lewis and a bicyclist. Besides the threats, the slurs and general level of discourse are alarming. That parts the driver said that seem threatening are highligted red, much of the rest of the driver’s diatribe is just silly/childish/slurs, “queer”, “tiny little man”, “You fucking short little fucking faggot”, “short little fucking pussey”… :

RL: What are you going to do? Put it on taaaape? Surfer gets a queer? Is that what you're gonna do, tough guy? You're not so tough right now are you?
bicyclist: Call the cops.
RL: You're not so tough are you, small guy?
bicyclist: I'm following the law...
RL: You're a small guy. You're a tiny little man. You're a big shot.
bicyclist: Vehicle code... 
RL: I'll smack you so fuckin good. If there wasn't any witnesses, do you know what i'd do to you? I'd pull Trump(?) on you.
bicyclist: What's your name?
RL: My name is your worst enemy, Mother fucker. My name is your worst enemy. I'm your fucking huckleberry(?), you short little fucking punk. Huh? You come though this town thinking you're fucking really cool on your bike, like you OWN this lane? Look, the bike lane is on the side [there's not bike lane there]
bicyclist: It's called sharrow
RL: Not in the middle of the street 
[there are sharrows there, in the "middle of the street"; i.e. in the center of the right lane.  The street there has multiple lanes for traffic in the direction RL and the bicyclist were traveling]
...
RL: I honked my horn because you were way over in OUR lane.
bicyclist: No, that's my lane
RL: No it's not.
...
RL: I'm watching you, you're lucky today. You're lucky today.
bicyclist: What's your name?
RL: Huh? My name is your worst enemy. You fucking short little fucking faggot
.... 
bicyclist: I'm not coming after you
RL: No you're not because you are afraid, aren't you? You're a pussey, that's why. You think you're a tough guy in your stupid little bike, but you're a short little fucking pussey. And you don't want to fuck with a guy like me, a surfer. And lives in this fucking town, puts up with your fucking shit all the time. Right? Puts up with your fuckin shit... like you own the road. You don't own the road
...

RL: See this? This means you are a fucking dead man walking. You come on to my fucking land, you're a fucking dead man
bicyclist: 6RUA223 Ford Escape [the tag number]

..

Christopher G. Loven / Prior bad acts?

On June 16, 2011 Colorado heavy dump truck driver Christopher G. Loven, 47, killed a bicyclist. He was ultimately sentenced to 120 home confinement plus several years of probation. The judge said “… Loven’s prior driving incidents — including two involving bicyclists — warranted more than just a probationary sentence”. Just how bad is the perpetrator’s driving record? Some background here:

I moved to Boulder, CO in 2012 and was here when a motorist went on trial for killing a cyclist in Left Hand Canyon on June 17th, 2011[1]; the driver in question pulled his dump truck and trailer directly into the path of a cyclist descending down a canyon. An accident you say? Except that this particular driver started to harass cyclists at least eight years earlier and was first cited for assaulting cyclists in 2003 in a road rage incident after he forced two cyclists off the road [2]. While spreading cheer and goodwill, the same driver, encountering a rider in 2009, earned a citation for reckless endangerment of a cyclist by pulling his vehicle in front of the rider, in the bike lane, then slowing to a crawl. When the cyclist attempted to ride around him, the driver used his vehicle to attempt to force the cyclist across the yellow line into oncoming traffic [3].  I have cited each story so you can verify the information.

/

Carlsbad Police Road Rage Mishandled / Sully Sullivan

Oct 2016: “Local Newsradio 600 KOGO host Sully Sullivan was riding in the annual Challenged Athletes Foundation Million Dollar Challenge through Carlsbad, California when a driver couldn’t handle their slow speed anymore” Carlsbad Police claimed no injuries were reported by the victim, and that was why they didn’t investigate. Something the victim strenuously denies “What I also find interesting is that the Carlsbad PD claims that I didn’t say that the driver intentionally hit me.That is inaccurate and such BS. I was painfully clear about that fact and our support vehicle driver … can attest to that”

Police are all too willing to overlook criminal driver behavior, and had to be shamed into opening an investigation. Angry driver knocks radio host off his bicycle during California charity ride: Cyclist was protecting paraplegic riding partner

Marshall Grant Neely III / Natchez Trace Parkway Hit-and-run reckless endangerment

caught on video: “Marshall Grant Neely III, 58, of Franklin was arrested Saturday (7/8/2017) evening and charged with felony reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to immediately notify of an accident and failure to render aid, said the National Park Service, in a Facebook post. Park rangers will meet with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to consider additional federal charges, the National Park Service said.” — news story.

The driver of the black car says, at different times: he didn’t him, he had no idea he hit anyone, that there was not a scratch on his car, and that a man and a woman were standing on the road and threw the bicycle at his vehicle

A couple of days later a newschannel5.com interview, the suspect was doing damage control saying he didn’t see (that particular) bicyclist, and suggested maybe the bicyclist veered into his path, and he had no idea he hit anyone, that there was “not a scratch” on his car.  However, police/court documents tell a different story:  “According to his arrest affidavits, Neely told law enforcement that law enforcement that a man and a woman were standing on the road and threw the bicycle at his vehicle”.
Of course, hit and run drivers have a propensity to lie. And there are rarely, if ever, any consequences for them doing so.

The Natchez Trace Parkway has recently been signed with BMUFL signage, the sign “is a reminder that cyclists are entitled to use one full lane”.

The story grinds on with a federal indictment that  “…alleges that Neely’s son went to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department and reported the SUV that struck the bicyclist belonged to his father because he recognized the stickers on the back… Neely is accused of removing the stickers from the SUV before troopers arrived at his home. Officers reportedly found Neely unconscious on the floor of his home.”. I hope they don’t let him skate on the hit-and-run, which is suppose is a state charge, and a serious felony in itself.

David Fox / Peterborough Ontario; aggravated assault

Video shows Fox pinning down the bloodied victim and beating him with a club…

Police said the driver of the truck was identified as David Fox, 65, of Peterborough, and was arrested just after noon at his residence. Fox has been charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. — globalnews.ca

Claude Donald Watson / Ashville NC. Assault and Reckless Driving

Dashcam video taken by another motorist 9/27/2017  posted to youtube by ashvilleonbikes shows Claude Donald Watson getting out of his pickup and punching a bicyclist in the face. He was arrested on charges of  simple assault and reckless driving to endanger according to a news story greenvilleonline.com

http://azbikelaw.org/motorist-doctor-convicted/#ashville

Police arrest driver accused of intentionally hitting 4 Marin County bicyclists

10/7/2017 Police arrest driver accused of intentionally hitting 4 Marin County bicyclists “The incident happened just before noon on Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd., according to CHP… Witnesses told officers that a dark blue Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling westbound when it struck the four cyclists. Officers believe the driver ran into the cyclists on purpose because he intentionally swerved the vehicle to the right, in the direction of the victims. The suspect did not stop, authorities said”.
Suspect arrested: Aaron Paff, 21
Victims: Spencer Fast, Robert Grier, Oliver Colvin, Joseph Olla.

http://azbikelaw.org/motorist-doctor-convicted/#marin

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