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Criminals are dumb.
June 14, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Your Sweet Justice story for the day: In February, K.C. was riding her bike home from work. While waiting at a stop light, she felt a slight bump from the car behind her, followed by laughter from within. K.C. wasn't looking for a fight, and did her best to ignore this. Disappointed with his failure to elicit a response, the driver bumped her again, this time a bit harder. This is when K.C. pulled out her police badge, and things started to get weird...
posted by schmod (94 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. So this guy intentionally bumped a cyclist with his car several times, and it turns out she was a cop? And now due to further felonies on this guy's part, he won't be charged with vehicular assault?

Mr. Harrison's sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 19th at DC Superior Court. I want to pack the courtroom with cyclists. As the victim of a crime, I am able to present a "Victim Impact Statement" to the judge. You better believe that I intend to bring up the fact that I am a cyclist first and foremost, and that this whole saga began when a driver decided to literally push around a cyclist with his motor vehicle.
posted by dubold at 9:40 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


DC drivers also enjoy doing this to pedestrians. Is it just the city where every asshole on the planet lives?
posted by Electrius at 9:43 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


You answered your own question. I see what you did there.
posted by PapaLobo at 9:44 AM on June 14, 2011


Everything about this is fantastic. This is like Woody Allen asking the camera "don't you wish life were like that?" but real.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:44 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This kind of reminds me of an old co-worker's story -- he came back from lunch one day grinning, looked at me and the other admin in our office, and crowed, "There is a God!" and told us his story.

He'd been crossing the street when a guy tried to run a red light, and almost hit him. As he walked, he shook his umbrella at the guy in the car (a sort of "dude, what the hell," thing) and just kept walking. The guy in the car pulled through the intersection as soon as he could, but then parked the car by the corner and got out to shout at our co-worker. "What the hell was that?" The driver shouted, angrily stalking over. He ranted and raved for a few moments, and even gave our co-worker a shove.

Our friend just stood there, blinking, until the driver gave him a perfect straight line - "What the hell was that?"

"That," our co-worker said, "That was a fucking red light. ....Wasn't it, officer?"

Because what our friend had seen, and the driver had not seen, was that a cop had been standing on the curb and had seen the whole thing happen, and had started walking over to intervene as soon as the driver got out of the car. The cop asked the driver to put his hands on the hood of his car so he could be patted down, and then turned to our friend and asked -- "Okay: exactly what would you like to see happen here next?"

What the cop was asking was, whether our friend wanted to file assault charges, because the driver had shoved him. But our friend said to just write him a ticket for running the red light. The cop asked if he was sure ("He did assault you, you could press charges for that,") and our friend just smiled sweetly at the driver and said no, he'd spare him this time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on June 14, 2011 [91 favorites]


Is it just the city where every asshole on the planet lives?

Although I also had that impression when I lived in the District, I can assure you that there are assholes in other places, too.
posted by The World Famous at 9:47 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


This should be inspiration enough for another season of The Wire.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:47 AM on June 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Everything about this is fantastic.

Except the part where all the charges related to intentionally hitting someone with a car, except the bits involving it being a police officer that got hit, were dropped.

Not exactly a victory for truth, justice and the American Way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


The District is the most bike-friendly I've ever lived. Hopefully more so now.
posted by Vhanudux at 9:51 AM on June 14, 2011


Although I also had that impression when I lived in the District, I can assure you that there are assholes in other places, too.

Oh, I know there are more than a few million assholes. But I've since left DC and I can't get used to drivers actually waving pedestrians across intersections instead of speeding up to try to make them jump out of the way.
posted by Electrius at 9:52 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


New hero. Because she is a bicyclist, a female cop, and (most important to me) a cop who understands how awful it is for victims of crime in our "aggravating" system of justice. If I lived in DC, I would so be at that hearing.
posted by psylosyren at 9:52 AM on June 14, 2011


Of course me walking toward him meant for him to step on the gas and accelerate towards me. I managed to get out of the way without him hitting me, but it was very close...

The driver was charged at the scene with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (vehicle), Assault on a Police Officer, Fleeing & Eluding, & Reckless Driving. Needless to say, his vehicle was impounded


I'm honestly surprised they didn't throw attempted murder at him as well, charging a cop, who is trying to arrest you, with your car is always a bad a idea.

I take driving very seriously and the idea of intentionally bumping a stranger because I'm in a car an they aren't is completely alien, and supremely dickish, to me. What makes it extra incomprehensible is that the possibility of something going wrong is just staggeringly high. You are in two tons of steel, they aren't, so you think it's a good idea to hit them? Motherfuckers. (admittedly, I used to trade paint with friends in our beaters when we were kids, but that was in completely pre-agreed upon games of bumper-tag, so I don't count it.)

And seriously, at what point do you become stupid enough to draw attention to yourself when you are moving around with drugs and warrants against you?

Criminals are dumb, indeed.
posted by quin at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't get the outrage over some of the charges being dropped. They were dropped because he plead guilty to two felonies and a misdemeanor. When you plead guilty its not uncommon for the deal to involve only pleading guilty to some of the charges with the others being dropped. Dropping charges in that context doesn't mean that anyone think what the person did wasn't illegal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:56 AM on June 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is also another example of how, if you're engaged in a criminal enterprise, and you don't want to get caught, don't be stupid!

Seriously, if I ever had to move a large amount of drugs, or other contraband, or (let's say) a body, I would make sure my license and registration were up to date, my taillights were working, my car wasn't smoking or making any sort of odd noises. I would drive just at the speed limit, signal all my turns, and I sure as hell wouldn't hit someone on a bike from behind just for shits and giggles!

(of course, in the US, I also wouldn't be Black, but that's a different issue)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:58 AM on June 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I take driving very seriously and the idea of intentionally bumping a stranger because I'm in a car an they aren't is completely alien, and supremely dickish, to me.

It just seems cartoonishly dumb. Who the fuck does stuff like that?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:01 AM on June 14, 2011


Mind you, it's pretty revolutionary that the charges even made it to court, and probably would have been pressed if the guy hadn't also been brought up on a dozen other significantly more severe charges (It's also worth noting that the writer seems relieved at this, because justice is being done, and she's not going to be forced to sit through a lengthy trial -- seems like a win-win for her).

Driver-hits-cyclist crimes are rarely even prosecuted, even in cases where the victim dies and the driver is clearly drunk, negligent, or aggravated (ie. literally getting away with murder).

Hopefully, this will be some sort of turning point.
posted by schmod at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it just the city where every asshole on the planet lives?

Well, a lot of them fly home on weekends to visit their constituencies.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2011 [47 favorites]


I also like that the guy tried to flee from a crime by a car in DC during rush hour, and got caught in traffic less than a block away, and was easily overtaken by the cyclist that he'd just hit (on a Capital Bikeshare bike, no less).
posted by schmod at 10:06 AM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't get used to drivers actually waving pedestrians across intersections instead of speeding up to try to make them jump out of the way.

I actually loathe when people do this. I cannot get over the fear that the person in the GIANT METAL KILLING MACHINE will hit the gas and crush me beneath their chariot wheels.
posted by winna at 10:07 AM on June 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've had incidents like this happen to me twice, both as pedestrian.

The first was a guy whose attention (and pressure on the brake pedal) wandered as he was waiting to make a right turn, and suddenly I'm getting bumped. A yell of "HEY!" got his attention.

The second was a guy who thought my using-a-cane-to-walk and cast-wearing gimp ass was moving too slowly across an intersection, and needed to be sped up. It included engine revs, honking, releasing the brake...

...entering the crosswalk in an aggressive manner (which is a vehicular offense that gets you a ticket as 'reckless driving'...

...the replacement of one of the headlights on his car when I acted defensively with the cane as he was driving recklessly and in a manner I found to be a personal threat...

The officer was very pleasant and offered me a ride home, but I already had one and she was already kind of annoyed at the delay.
posted by mephron at 10:11 AM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This news is at least a positive development for biking in DC, especially after the depressing "Cyclist Struck, Extricated From Under Car Near National Mall" story from this morning. In general DC drivers don't act like aggressive jerks, they're typically a combination of entitled intersection blockers and distracted Blackberry checkers. There have been a few "assholes" that have tried to intentionally screw with me while cycling, I've found that they're much more likely to screw with single women on a bike- probably because they think they're less likely to fight back.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:12 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get the outrage over some of the charges being dropped.

because a precedent needs to be set. offenses against cyclists need to become unacceptable in the eyes of the law and most importantly in the eyes of people driving cars. there are so many people that get away these crimes and worse everyday. an accident is one thing, but this is the sort of disrespecting and unaware behavior that some drivers have with not recognizing cyclists as fragile human beings that can be so so easily killed by their vehicle. if they won't stop and realize the consequences of their actions before they hurt someone, perhaps if we can get start to get the legal system on our side people will think twice before using their cars to play these deadly games.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2011


Man, I was in Columbus this weekend for work, and I was crossing High Street on foot (wtf is up with High Street anyway? There's this crazy crosswalk without a light or a signal; you're just supposed to....step out, I guess, and traffic traveling at fifty mph on a four-lane highway down a steep hill on one side and over one on the other is supposed to see you and stop within like a couple hundred yards). A woman did a sudden U-turn in the middle of the street while the traffic was stopped, I guess taking the opportunity to pull straight up at the valet stand of the restaurant she was going into rather than going around the block. She came about thisclose to hitting me and blew the horn loud and long, I guess because I was in her way?

I said to my friend, "Wow! That was bold." "Sure was," said a voice behind me - there was a cop standing on the corner in short sleeves and a safety vest, directing traffic around a work site. He hollered across the street to the valet, "Wave her on, son. She can go on around the block." The driver protested, probably because since she was now facing the other way in the corner bordered by a city park and the interstate she'd have to go around multiple traffic-clogged blocks to get back where she was; the cop told her she was lucky she wasn't getting a ticket. She didn't like that; the last thing I saw, he was headed across the street toward her.

I saw her later, smoking outside the restaurant, so I guess she made it there eventually. She saw ME and started to say something, but so did that police officer, who was coming off his shift and walking away from the construction site past us on the sidewalk. The impotent fury on her face was amazing.

I have never had real life happenings unfold in such a satisfying fashion before, and would not be fool enough to expect them to ever again.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2011 [31 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised they didn't throw attempted murder at him as well

When I worked retail, I was involved in a shoplifting incident that ended with a short police chase. Reportedly, when the shoplifter finally stopped on the highway three towns away, she gunned her car at a state trooper who was walking over to arrest her. She was charged with attempting to kill a police officer.

Like this story, that one eventually ended in a plea of "guilty" to several charges that neither involved the original incident (shoplifting) nor represented the full gravity of the crime (attempted murder). I understand KC's point about the significance of one charge versus another, and I agree in theory, but it's the way our system often works.
posted by cribcage at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2011


There have been a few "assholes" that have tried to intentionally screw with me while cycling, I've found that they're much more likely to screw with single women on a bike- probably because they think they're less likely to fight back.

This, so much. It's one of the reasons I don't bike to work. From exchanging stories with fellow cyclists in the area, women seem to have a lot more "run off the side of the road" experiences.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess I just don't see how pushing this one defendant to plea to these specific charges from the whole menu of crimes he committed will send any kind of message whatsoever. It's not like the court dismissed them for lacking merit or the prosecutors dropped them because they didn't care. That's when this becomes a problem, not when there's a plea agreement that reaches a middle ground and punishes the criminal in a what looks like a reasonable way.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


When this happened to me I tried to call the local police station to report it. They didn't even pick up the phone. When I complained about that to my city councillor they then aggressively investigated the details of my allegation that they did not answer the phone, clearly with the intent of generating inconsistencies via repeated interrogation (though one would assume a modern police force would have a call logging pbx). There was never any follow up of the fact that a driver had actively and deliberately driven their car at me.

My take away was to remember: Never ever talk to the police. Protecting you comes somewhere after protecting their performance metrics, themselves and the sanctity of their apparently uninterruptible tea breaks. If you mess with those things, you will be the object of the investigation not crimes committed against you.

I am glad this officer got justice for herself. But the story isn't heartwarming at all. It is about the privileges that come with power and the unusualness of the story is a very clear reminder that those privileges are not available to everyone else.
posted by srboisvert at 10:26 AM on June 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Yeah ... "I had no benefit because I'm a cop- I'm just a regular joe who was lucky to have training and know what to look for. Also... a radio in my bag... also..."
I was very surprised to learn the next day that the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) had agreed to not only prosecute those charges, but also made it two counts of ADW instead of just one. I was also floored when they decided to hold him instead of releasing him (usually you have to kill more than one person to get held in jail in this city, sheesh).
Shocked, shocked that the law would treat someone who injures are dares threaten the mighty thin blue line even a touch. I bet you were surprised, if you don't realize that's how you get extra fine protection and your whole cadre is full of skeezy shit like this, then... you're a bit naive, no?

Don't get me wrong, those fucks should get in trouble, especially since they were acting like shitheads potentially causing serious harm to at least one person on a bike, and more harm to other people in big ol' cages (that's what the cyclists like to call us, right? cagers?)
posted by symbioid at 10:38 AM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


(that's what the cyclists like to call us, right? cagers?)

I'm a cyclist and I've never heard the term "cager" in my entire life. What does it mean?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on June 14, 2011


Where was the Sunshine Band during all of this?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:41 AM on June 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Basically it's the idea that we're safe and secure in a cage, oblivious to all that goes around (and even though I don't cycle, I'm pretty pro-cycling, and agree with the sentiment in general)...

urban dictionary on the word.
posted by symbioid at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2011


I'm a cyclist and I've never heard the term "cager" in my entire life.

Me either. I'm guessing that it means "motorist". Probably something to do with driving around in a big steel cage.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2011


Guys, I know -- I'm trying to stop what looked like an attempt to turn this into a Bikes vs. cars "all bikers are self-righteous assholes" turf war again. Shhh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


(that's what the cyclists like to call us, right? cagers?)

Me neither, and I ride in the occasional critical mass, etc etc. We do usually refer to you as "cars" rather than "drivers"....or rather, I don't especially because I bum rides off friends as needed, so tend not to slag on drivers.
posted by Frowner at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2011


Cool story, but yeah, none of this would have happened if she wasn't law enforcement. We've got a long, long, long way to go before cyclists can feel safe on the roads in this country.

I don't understand the mentality of people who like screwing with cyclists. Every now and again while I'm riding, carloads of teenagers (or people in their twenties who may as well be teenagers) roll up beside me and holler and shout, like they're gonna surprise me into falling off my bike. It's frustrating, cuz everyone has some big balls at thirty miles an hour and I know not one of the worms who pull this shit would mess with me on foot.

But two summers ago, there came a day when this happened near the Albertson's between Olympia and Lacey - some kids tried to spook me into falling, then sped away. Right up to a light that had just turned red.

Thank you, god.

Here's the thing - I'm six foot two and 250 lbs with a shaved head and a thick black beard. When I want to be, I'm a scary looking motherfucker. I rolled up beside the car full of hollering assholes, took my helmet off and start pounding their windows with it, bellowing abuse and promising grievous physical harm to anyone with the spine to step out of the car and put their money where their hollering was. The looks of shock and terror on their suddenly-not-so-brave faces was goddamn delicious and still keeps me warm some nights. They peeled out when the light changed, hopefully with a better understanding of the risks of fucking with strangers.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:50 AM on June 14, 2011 [34 favorites]


Great story, and I am excellently glad to see a jerk get what he deserves.
But, man, that is boring writing.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:51 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Also never heard the term "cager" in my life - what I call motorists while cycling depends entirely on the conduct of the motorist)
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2011


KC's story, I mean.
Your's is awesomely written, EatTheWeak. Much better, in fact.
And I'm not just saying that cuz you're all big and scary and all that.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:54 AM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I only know the term "cager" because a co-worker of mine used to subscribe to Easyriders magazine and used to bring in his old copies for us to browse. I once got "bumped" when I was in my car sitting at a red light. The car behind me nudged me twice and I finally got out to see what the problem was. He got out and started yelling about "you can turn right on red, you know!" I pointed out the "No Right on Red" sign and started talking about flagging down a cop and he pulled out his wallet (he was still a few feet away from me), flipped it open for a split second to reveal what looked like a badge, and then slapped it shut, like that was supposed to silence me. I've seen enough TV to know that most police officers don't keep their badges in their wallet in their back pocket, so I asked "Why didn't you get the one that says 'Marshall, Dodge City'?" He uttered a string of profanities and left. This was in the pre-cell phone days, unfortunately, so there was no quick way to call for help and it wasn't until after he scooted off in a huff I noticed that he'd left a nice dent in my bumper.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:56 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Cager" is a motorcyclist term, in my experience. I see that Urban Dictionary claims it's a bicyclist term too, but I think it comes from motorcycling. And yeah, it's because car drivers are "in a cage" relative to the open-air ride of a motorcycle.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


These are the kinds of stories that make me want to stand up from my computer and start a slow clap. Just...wow. Bravo.
posted by MattMangels at 11:02 AM on June 14, 2011


Ah, shake, shake, shake.
Shake, shake, shake.
Shake your booty.
Shake your booty.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:07 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There have been a few "assholes" that have tried to intentionally screw with me while cycling, I've found that they're much more likely to screw with single women on a bike- probably because they think they're less likely to fight back.

That, and also, if the woman is attractive, the same mindset that makes asshats yell lewd comments to women at construction sites.

Somewhere, in the back of their minds, they think, "Hey, I'm getting her attention, maybe this will lead somewhere!"
posted by misha at 11:09 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Read her original post:

So I debated whether to say something to this dick of a driver. The light turned green, and I decided to let it go and instead ride reeeallllyyyy slllloooowwwwwlllly in front of him to piss him off.

Riding slowly is not a crime of course, but it sounds like from her statement that her intent was to piss off the driver and thus escalate the situation. This was not mentioned in her second post. I wonder if she described it to the Grand Jury.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:19 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: (of course, in the US, I also wouldn't be Black, but that's a different issue)

You're black outside of the U.S.?
posted by herbplarfegan at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This woman is my hero today. She rocks. I really hope that her plans for a little activisim during the sentencing hearing pay off.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:25 AM on June 14, 2011


Riding slowly is not a crime of course, but it sounds like from her statement that her intent was to piss off the driver and thus escalate the situation. This was not mentioned in her second post. I wonder if she described it to the Grand Jury.

Not sure if serious...
posted by zombieflanders at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Riding slowly is not a crime of course, but it sounds like from her statement that her intent was to piss off the driver and thus escalate the situation. This was not mentioned in her second post. I wonder if she described it to the Grand Jury.

Tell me, what is the proper way to de-escalate a situation after someone has decided they want to hit you with their car? And don't say "Well, not by driving slowly in front of him to piss him off". I don't want to know what you think she shouldn't do, I want to know what you think she should do.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:47 AM on June 14, 2011


Two stories:
1) Drivers in DC: A buddy and I drove to the Punkin Chunk one year. On the way back, we stopped in DC to go to the Smithsonian. We had the walk at one intersection, but that didn't stop some driver from trying to run me over to make his right on red. The driver started screaming at me, etc, etc. Now, Phill's an easy 300lb, and most of it is in his legs. He was about three paces behind as the driver tried to run me over, and just walked right into the side of the car. I've seen 20mph car-on-car accidents that have left smaller dents.

2) Mother's day, 199..9? I rode my bike out to my grandparents to say hello. On the way back, some guy in a Cadillac decided that my riding in the gutter was impinging on his right to drive (four lane road, center lane our way was open). He honked and screamed obscenities, and I responded with a rhetorical flourish in the form of a simple hand gesture. He sped off. Two miles down the road, I was scootin' along with no traffic around, and I see him parked in the lot of an abandoned restaurant, running at me with fists clenched. I swerved out (luckily I'd just checked my mirrors and knew it was clear) and kept going. Another mile down the way, he parks in a 7-11 and again, comes out swinging. This time the road was uphill, so I was going much slower, and was able to ask him, "Do you want an assault charge? DO YOU WANT AN ASSAULT CHARGE?" before he said, "yeah, sure" and popped me in the ear.

This time, there was traffic all around, and apparently a Camaro did a flat spin while missing me. I wobble off the bike, and he runs back to his car. I go *into the 7-11*, get four witnesses to read the license plate, and he drives off.

So the cop that shows up runs the plate, and sends another squad car to the address. Now, this guy who hit me is a real genius. He was driving his brother's car, so where does he go? His brother's house. He comes running out at the cops, "I'll give that little motherfucker something to whine about!!!" to which they responded, "You have the right to remain silent..."

I had to go to court like, four times, and it didn't even go to trial - he pleaded out, got a suspended sentence, and that was that.
posted by notsnot at 11:48 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was recently crossing the one road I have to cross to get to the courthouse. It is a five lane road with a turning lane between the two sets of two lanes going in opposite directions. There is a crosswalk there with a signal. The light turned and the walk sign lit up. A second or two after the walk sign lit up, a car came whizzing by and went through a red light. I let out some sort of "Hey!" as I saw it approach and the driver shouted, "Fuck you!" through his open window.

An officer in a patrol vehicle happened to be on the cross street and he activated his blue lights and siren. The red light runner tried to make a quick turn to lose the police car, but when he made his sudden right turn he lost control and skidded across the sidewalk at the next intersection. There were five people walking on that sidewalk at the time in a group taking up the entire sidewalk so that faster walkers behind them couldn't pass them and walkers coming the opposite way had to practically step off the sidewalk just to go by them. The car hit those five people directly and they were all severely injured.

The car got back onto the road and found itself in the immediate path of an eighteen wheeler that was delivering cell phones to a store where all the people who text in movie theaters buy them. The force of the collision between the truck and the car forced the back door of the truck open and thousands of cellphones skimmed along the pavement like rats fleeing a fire.

A driver who likes to make abrupt right hand turns off of busy commercial roads without using a turn signal slammed his brakes when he saw the phones coming at him. His car actually slid on the phones causing him to lose control. Coming from the opposite direction was a bus filled with people going to one of those seminars where they teach you how to cut in front of people in lines at stores and pretend you didn't realize you did that. The collision caused by the seminar bus and the non-signaling driver caused an explosion that likely killed everyone involved.

It was a good day.
posted by flarbuse at 11:48 AM on June 14, 2011 [24 favorites]


no idea how I botched that earlier link, it was supposed to go here. Someone who witnessed the accident has pics (nothing graphic) that show that where the vehicle stopped was well past the intersection/crosswalk where she was originally struck.
posted by Challahtronix at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2011


blocks from my house. I'm a Mt. P person.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:15 PM on June 14, 2011


I haven't had an incident in a long time, but I do most of my riding on trails these days. The insanity I see every day driving to work strongly discourages me from riding in traffic.

Many years ago when I was in my teens, I was biking up a pretty steep hill in the summer heat. A pickup passed and the passenger threw a beer bottle at my head. It missed, but passed just in front of my face. I didn't quite go in the ditch.

This was back in the Wild West days when no one wore helmets, so I'd have been in bad shape had it connected with my skull. I'm sure they would have stopped to help.
posted by bitmage at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2011


Tell me, what is the proper way to de-escalate a situation after someone has decided they want to hit you with their car? And don't say "Well, not by driving slowly in front of him to piss him off". I don't want to know what you think she shouldn't do, I want to know what you think she should do.

I unfortunately can't think of any way to de-escalate other than by rapidly leaving the road, which would have been the smart thing to do if she were not a police officer. But her intent was not to de-escalate; she stated that her intent was to piss off the driver a bit before she flashed her badge.

IANAL, but I believe that her intent in provoking the other party factors into the case at least a little -- for instance it may affect the severity of the sentence or her reliability as a witness. It also ruins her "it's not worth fucking with the driver" argument since she admits she did try to fuck with the driver, if only a tiny bit, and this may have led to the second charge of ADW.

As a thought experiment, what would happen if she was in a car and the perp was behind her on a bike shooting bullets into her trunk, and she slowed down intentionally to prevent him from passing her? Does this make any sense?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2011


As a thought experiment, what would happen if she was in a car and the perp was behind her on a bike shooting bullets into her trunk, and she slowed down intentionally to prevent him from passing her? Does this make any sense?

No, but probably not in the way you intend.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I unfortunately can't think of any way to de-escalate other than by rapidly leaving the road

Eventually, you just get so damned tired of running away.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:47 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Out here in the southwest, I ride on the sidewalk as much as possible - pedestrians don't use it and that four-to-six inches of curb goes a lot farther towards discouraging bike-bumping drivers than a million gallons of white Bike Lane Paint.

Because I go out of my way to yield to pedestrians and cars (why not, I'm on a bike, it's not like I'm in a hurry), I quite often get waved through by drivers who smile at me.

Really.


And, is this BFPP day? There are at least five bike posts...(not complaining)
posted by mmrtnt at 12:50 PM on June 14, 2011


A competent and thoughtful police officer, who rides a bike!
What, crime-fighting Syrian lesbians not implausible enough for you people?

I keed I keed. Great Story.

As most police officers and those close to police officers will tell you, part of the reason for the jaded cynicism is that the stupid simply never seems to end.

posted by fullerine at 1:03 PM on June 14, 2011


I'm happy the guy's getting charged and all, but I really don't like the idea of cops blogging about people they arrest. Creepy and weird and hugely ripe for abuse by the wrong kind of cops.
posted by modernnomad at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2011


I really don't like the idea of cops blogging about people they arrest

I love the idea of cops blogging about people they arrest. To the extent they are accurate accounts, it would increase transparency. To the extent that the blog accounts differ from the official report, it would provide valuable impeachment evidence at trial.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


These biking horror stories only make me appreciate how my city (Minneapolis) does things. I bike daily a few miles to and from work when the weather allows, and have never been harassed, run off the road, cursed, or anything like that. We've developed enough bike-friendly infrastructure to make it feel more "natural" for cyclists and drivers to share space, so there's less of the stepping-on-my-toes rage from both - drivers know to stay off of certain residential streets if they don't like dealing with cyclists, and vice-versa. Bikes are just a normal part of our city, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Though to be fair, my closest encounter was last week when a car cut me off because he thought an intersection was a four-way stop; his car had a "Start Seeing Motorcycles!" bumper sticker, so he may have just been showing off his ironic sensibilities.
posted by antonymous at 1:25 PM on June 14, 2011


I get screamed at randomly from time to time; people just drive past going WHOOOO.

People are assholes.
posted by everichon at 1:26 PM on June 14, 2011


I had a similar experience in DC many years back. Made a legal right on red on my bike, and a few seconds later was rushed by a speeding car honking away with a woman madly gesticulating at me as we approached the back of a short line of cars waiting at a red light. I stop and ignore her going crazy behind me, thinking she was sure in a rush to get to that red light. She then pulls up and puts her bumper against my rear wheel, pushing me forward. I always rode with my u-lock in my hand - mostly to speed up the process of making deliveries, but also on the off chance a situation like this ever arose.* Turned around and gave her two good dents in her hood and took out her passenger side headlight, then began riding away in the other direction on the sidewalk of the one-way street. Now she starts turning around in the street to come after me the wrong way, and the last thing I see is a well-timed police car coming around the corner and hitting its lights to stop her.

*In six years of courier work this was the only time I actually used the lock in such a way, even though there were certainly other times I'd been tempted.
posted by zoinks at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


A number of years ago now, an unexpected road closure and some new construction work here in Seattle forced me onto a busy street for a couple of blocks that I normally never ride on (NW 85th just east of 15th NW), and some guy coming up behind me in a pickup decided it would be amusing to rev his engine behind me, even though we were only about thirty yards from a line of traffic backed up at a long light.

I never know when I'm going to do something like this, but I slammed on the brakes, forcing him to screech to a halt to avoid hitting me, then circled around through a driveway to come alongside, and bent the superstructure of his towing mirror flat against the side of the truck-- which was disappointing, because I'd wanted to rip it off and throw it back into the bed-- then slapped his passenger window hard and gave him the finger, and went into the Walgreens lot and gestured for him to join me and discuss philosophies of road etiquette.

But he turned out to have more pressing business.
posted by jamjam at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


modernnomad: "I'm happy the guy's getting charged and all, but I really don't like the idea of cops blogging about people they arrest. Creepy and weird and hugely ripe for abuse by the wrong kind of cops."

She didn't. She was the victim, and did not make the arrest, or participate in incident in any professional capacity apart from flashing her badge, and calling the incident in over her radio.

And, yeah. It sucks that cops seem to get preferential treatment. However, now that one of these cases has crossed the prosecutor's desk, I'd argue that he'll be more likely to take it seriously the next time that it happens to a civilian.
posted by schmod at 1:55 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another bit similar to EatTheWeak's story above:
Coming across the Mall on 14th Street at speed, and some dick coming the other way swings a left inches in front of me and also at speed, trying to make it in front of traffic to get onto the little road along the Mall (Jefferson, I think). I almost certainly would've been killed or at the very least seriously hurt had he been a moment later or I a bit faster. I'm in a hurry so I just give the finger and a yell over my shoulder, and see that HE is giving ME the finger. So now I turn around and manage to catch him in less than a minute as he's on this little road clogged with tourists and whatnot. Lay the bike down in front of the car and walk to the driver's side window, lock in hand. I am fully ready to break every window and dent every panel of this car, as I see the windows going up. And I simply could not do it. It's some college-aged kid and his girlfriend, and he looks like he may have actually shat himself sitting there. Just the pathetic look on his face made me stop. Tapped his window with the lock a few times and rode away. I wanted to think that was enough to make him think next time, but who knows.
posted by zoinks at 2:03 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a safe, law abiding cyclist. I've been mistreated, abused, threatened and physically assaulted more times than I can count while on my bike. I've entertained revenge fantasies a lot like the things people in this thread are saying they've done. I've never actually followed through though, and I wish other cyclists would stop. If a driver puts your life in danger, or even just harrasses or verbally abuses you, get their license plate, a description of their car and a description of them and call the police. Please. Damaging their car puts you at immediate risk, casts ALL cyclists in a more negative light and cultivates a combative, violent relationship between cars and cyclists, and that's just not a fight cyclists can win (or even survive).
posted by renderthis at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


She didn't. She was the victim, and did not make the arrest, or participate in incident in any professional capacity apart from flashing her badge, and calling the incident in over her radio.


Once she flashed her badge, gave chase, and ordered the driver to stop, she was participating in a professional capacity.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm a daily cyclist, and fuckheads in cars like the one described drive me crazy. But there needs to be some professionalism shown by people who are authorized to carry guns and lay down beatings when deemed necessary, and I don't see mocking blogs as part of that, no matter how douchey the subject of the blog.
posted by modernnomad at 2:52 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah despite my comments above I generally agree with you, renderthis. As I mentioned, I only actually responded this way once in six years of riding in traffic forty hours a week every week. Oh and I was a lot younger then. Sometimes our calm, rational selves get overwhelmed, for better or worse.
posted by zoinks at 2:52 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


For instance, I think a cop who was blogging (with real names, as this one did) about every domestic violence incident they attended would be outrageously intrusive, even if the incident resulted in arrest. I don't see any meaningful way to draw lines other than to say to cops "you cannot blog about incidents that involve you as a cop."
posted by modernnomad at 2:56 PM on June 14, 2011


EatTheWeak, I almost got hit by a semi right about there several years ago, while trying to cross Fones Road. He was turning right, I was crossing in the crosswalk. I know, not best practice for a cyclist, but I'm not badass enough to actually bike on Pacific around there, or at least I wasn't then. (how I blogged it that day.)

I ended up changing my commute so as to avoid Pacific entirely; this was before the Woodland trail was finished, which made for a meandering commute. I <3 the Woodland trail.
posted by epersonae at 3:18 PM on June 14, 2011


Can we have more stories like this please? Coming up next, motorist nudges cyclist, cyclist turns out to be Judge Dredd. Hilarity ensues.
posted by Joe Chip at 3:34 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I suddenly appreciate biking in Richmond/El Cerrito/Berkeley/Oakland. It's really rare that I run into this kind of assholery, to the extent that when it happens I'm struck dumb with shock.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2011


"Driver-hits-cyclist crimes are rarely even prosecuted, even in cases where the victim dies and the driver is clearly drunk, negligent, or aggravated (ie. literally getting away with murder)."

This is sadly also true where the victim is a motorcyclist. Possibly because we're all danger-seeking maniacs and criminal types a la The Wild Bunch? And we deserve what we get? I'd hate to think that we're just non-people, the way bicyclists are. Though I dunno, I suppose I'd take being a non-person over being presumed at-fault in any accident and treated like a miscreant just because I'm not hauling around tons of unnecessary weight and a box of empty seats for li'l ol' me to get around. I guess we're both earth-loving socialists/terrorists in that sense. See, we deserve what we get!

Either way, the car is king, might (and mass) make right.

And man, whenever I'm on my bicycle since I got my M endorsement I feel totally naked and vulnerable without a full-face helmet and gear covering every inch of exposed skin. Nothing but respect for the people who do it every day. *waves to cristinacristinacristina* I always try to be super-cool to bicyclists (I even give them the motorcyclist wave from time to time, though that just tends to confuse them). We're both on two wheels, and we should be on the same team.
posted by Eideteker at 4:01 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


A while back a few teens tried to knock me off my bike by the Lincoln Memorial. I choose not to escalate the situation.
posted by humanfont at 4:18 PM on June 14, 2011


Reminds me of a little story from my past. Once while walking in the Loop I was nearly hit by a vehicle making a right turn that did not yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk (I had the signal). As I olé'ed the car I smacked it with my copy of the Onion. That I was able to do this without extending my arm indicates the closeness of the pass.

At this time the driver screeches to a stop, gets out, and with total aggro accosts me for damaging his car. He shouts for a bit and then I mentioned the whole right-turn, yield to pedestrians crossing on their signal thing was in effect. As I was doing this, the uniformed traffic cop came over and started to intervene, asking the guy for license and registration. The guy's counter was to pull a badge from a chain around his neck. He shut down the uniformed cop and threatened me with an arrest for assault. It was a plainclothes officer in an unmarked car, natch. I'd love to say I pressed him on this, but the inner voice of reason made a rare visit and I yessir/nosir'ed my way out of the situation.

After I got back to work I tried filing a report with the precinct over the phone, but there wasn't a whole lot of enthusiasm on their part to do anything about it. I fucking hate Chicago cops...

More topically, I'm happy some kind of justice is being carried out here. Even if it takes some doofus pulling this on an off-duty cop to get a little payback for this kind of crap I've seen a
posted by Fezboy! at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


million times as an unmotored user of public transportation infrastructure.

(stupid me and my premature button clicking)
posted by Fezboy! at 4:21 PM on June 14, 2011


Cop creates perfect narrative that insures maximum penalty for crime.

It's all to perfect.

Also, Oscar Grant's killer was released this'd week.
posted by pianomover at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2011


Riding slowly is not a crime of course, but it sounds like from her statement that her intent was to piss off the driver and thus escalate the situation. This was not mentioned in her second post. I wonder if she described it to the Grand Jury.

Hmmm, this is getting into "short skirt is sure begging to be raped!" territory for me. It is illegal to hit people with your car; it is not illegal to ride a bicycle at any speed you desire.
posted by smoke at 6:40 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best things i learned from the article:

I've taken plenty of hit & run reports and unfortunately many victims simply don't know what to look for or what's important. It's great that you memorized the license plate number--but we don't arrest cars, we arrest drivers. Also, license plates get stolen, typically by the sorts of people that do hit & runs. Most of the time, victims cannot positively identify the driver, let alone the car....

and

I'm very lucky that Mr. Harrison didn't have that gun with him that night. This is why its not a good idea to engage with aggressive drivers 98% of the time--you never know who/what they are.
posted by storybored at 6:54 PM on June 14, 2011


I sympathised with the story, but always find it worrying when police officers express opinions of this sort:

"If you have never been a victim of a crime, (or have experience in dealing with them), you have no idea how tiresome & aggravating our system of justice is. You are basically forced re-live the crime over and over and over and over."

Yes, giving evidence really is a pain, and it can be an awful experience. But if we want victims to be heard, while allowing the accused to respond, how else should we organise things? Of course honest police officers think everyone they charge is guilty, they wouldn't do it otherwise. This doesn't mean that the justice system is a waste of time. Repeatedly recounting an unpleasant, but plainly not powerfully traumatic, experience is surely not too high a price for an attempt at justice.
posted by howfar at 8:37 PM on June 14, 2011


Nice to see a thread about the police which isn't full of people calling them evil fascist baby killers.
posted by joannemullen at 8:43 PM on June 14, 2011


God I'm glad I don't live in DC anymore. The worst thing that's happened to me in Seattle was when I was waiting for a light to change so I could cross Green Lake Way on foot and a car stopped at the intersection on a green light so they could wave me across. As I refused to cross against a red light, the people behind the stopped car started honking and the lady started yelling at *me* for not going. Then the light changed and everyone was pissed off as I sauntered across the intersection.

And that, right there, is the Curse of Driving in Seattle.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:15 PM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


In any case, hopefully obnoxious incidents of this kind will come to an end once DC reboots this September.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:47 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is also another example of how, if you're engaged in a criminal enterprise, and you don't want to get caught, don't be stupid!

Or high as a kite, as appears to have been the case here.

Anyway, for those who complain that the guy wouldn't have been charged if the girl had been a cop: there's a very good reason why the law is merciless with those who attack or intimidate law enforcement officers. As she mentions in the blog, their capacity puts them at particular risk. A criminal, confronted with a cop, will be very tempted to use violence to eliminate this problem. It is therefore very important to protect anybody involved with law enforcement, just like it is important to protect witnesses.

The flipside, of course, is that corruption should be prosecuted equally strictly. Criminals should have neither stick nor carrot to wave at law enforcement.
posted by Skeptic at 12:53 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey weird, I know this girl - I quit smoking online with her years ago.
posted by b33j at 1:29 AM on June 15, 2011


symbioid: "(that's what the cyclists like to call us, right? cagers?)"

I'm a motorcycle rider, and that's what we call drivers in cars (aka drivers in big metal cages).
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:02 AM on June 15, 2011


I have a relative who was shot, on his own property, by someone hunting deer without a license (on private land---my relative's land). It only grazed my relative....who happened to be a DEC agent.

There was no malice involved---but because my relative was just grazed, the hunter did try to deny that my relative had been shot.

DEC is the Department of Environmental Conservation ---they regulate hunting licenses--among other things.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:07 AM on June 15, 2011


I don't understand the mentality of people who like screwing with cyclists.

It's a power trip. I still can't decide if that's worse than simple inattention, though: I also bike in DC and part of my commute takes me along Pennsylvania Ave NW, where the city has recently put bike lanes in the median, separate from the rest of traffic. It's a really nicely thought-out system, except for the alarmingly common tendency of some local motorists to suddenly decide they want to make a U-turn in the middle of the block. Which means that there have been multiple times where I'm riding along, pretty visible in the bike lane, and someone driving to my right suddenly swerves left into me. In rush hour, on a major thoroughfare, in the middle of the block.

The one time I landed on someone's hood, he managed nothing more than a palms-up "oops" gesture. I managed to not kick in his headlight.
posted by psoas at 8:19 AM on June 15, 2011


"Nice to see a thread about the police which isn't full of people calling them evil fascist baby killers."

Or underwater chiropodists. I hate it when threads turn into that.

(Since we're providing uncited derails. Wasn't this thread "about" bicyclists, one of who happens to be a police officer in this case?)
posted by Eideteker at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Greenlake in Seattle, I regularly ride in the bike lanes on either side of the road around the north side of the park containing the lake, and when I was in the bike lane with no included parking (just next to the park), I noticed that a few drivers had a habit of driving with at least their right wheels over the line defining the quite narrow bike lane.

I decided to count for a week the proportion of drivers who did this (not counting those who eventually turn right, into the park), expecting, I don't know, maybe one in a hundred?

No. As it turned out, one in fifteen.
posted by jamjam at 10:22 AM on June 15, 2011


I've nearly been run over by CABI riders more often than I have by car drivers here in DC. So I don't have much sympathy for the bicyclist. They are militant, rude, dangerous and nasty riders and one of these days, one is going to hit me rather than just pass a half inch away on the sidewalk while screaming at me to get the fuck out of their way.
posted by QIbHom at 11:27 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


PROTIP: No one on a bike wants to run into anything, including pedestrians who "don't have much sympathy" for them because of problems the pedestrian has had with other riders. Promise.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:28 PM on June 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


PROTIP: No one on a bike wants to run into anything,...

If wishes were, etc.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:12 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


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