Don’t Deliberately Brake Hard in Front of Cyclists

Ride a BikeA crystal clear case of driver vs biker road rage?  Last year, city prosecutors filed criminal charges against physician Christopher Thompson for deliberately braking hard in front of two cyclists on a narrow stretch of Mandeville Canyon.  After a three-week trial, the jurors came back with convictions in hand: Dr. Thompson was found guilty of, among other charges, assault with a deadly weapon and mayhem.  According to the prosecutors:

… Thompson stopped his car after passing the two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single-file. One cyclist ran face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s red Infiniti, breaking his front teeth and nose, and leaving his face scarred. The other was sent hurtling to the sidewalk and suffered a separated shoulder.

Thompson told the response officer that the cyclists flipped him off, so he hit the brakes “to teach them a lesson.”  Thompson’s version is decidedly more benign: he says he pulled over to take a photo of the riders and thought he had left them enough room to get around his car.  Which one sounds more likely?

Two lessons spring to mind.  First, statements you make after an accident can be used for and against you in court, so talk to anyone at your emotionally-charged peril.  And second, don’t effing use your car as a weapon to “teach” someone a lesson.  No apples for you.

Photo courtesy frequent commentator waltarrrrr via the Metblogs Flickr pool.

11 Replies to “Don’t Deliberately Brake Hard in Front of Cyclists”

  1. That was not the doctor’s story, pulling over to photograph the bikers. That was a lie made up by his defense attorney. Not a word was ever said about that until the trial. The doctor told his story to the policeman on the scene: he passed and then braked hard to teach the bikers a lesson. Both he and his attorney should rot in hell.

  2. Thanks for using the photo, but I think this one is more poignant.

    As a member of the cyclist community, I feel an overwhelming sense of vindication. It’s harsh out there. Riding into traffic is combat. A constant battle to convince drivers to share the road, and give us some space. Like David facing down Goliath, except Goliath is wearing 2 tons of armor that can crush you at 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.

    Hopefully this will give enraged drivers pause. Cyclist are too often victims of hit and run assaults by enraged or annoyed drivers. The difference here is that it involved affluent people. The injured cyclist had the wherewithal to pursue his assailant and find justice. For the common cyclists outside Mandeville Canyon, its another day of looking over their shoulder and hoping for grace…

  3. Great post, saw in the news the ahole, a Doctor no less who would have intimate knowledge of the injury potential caused by his actions, was found guilty. Can’t wait to see the sentence.

    As a side bar, with a conviction for intentionally braking and having the knowledge of the injury potential his auto insurance “Intentional acts exclusion” now applies and guess what…in the civil arena any injury claims out of this are now coming out of his pocket for defense and indemnity. Serves him right to have his personal assets on line for such as assholian thing to do.

  4. Being both a driver and a cyclist I see both sides. Drivers who can’t give room to a cyclist, or even a motorcyclist, are a-holes. But I’ve seen plenty of cyclists “asserting their rights” and being just as big of a-holes.

  5. Urbinsissy what you have to say rings true on so many levels. However a bicyclist stopping fast isn’t going to hurt a car as bad as vice versa as we saw here.

  6. Most of the cyclists I know are part-time motorists. I’d like to see every able bodied automobile driver in Los Angeles have the experience of spending a few miles on a bike in city traffic just to see the other side of the equation.

  7. As a motorcyclist, I see plenty of my share of said behaviors. But to be fair, I have also seen my fair share of morons on bicycles who ignore common traffic laws left and right, so all’s fair I suppose.

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