Hummer Hits Bike, LAPD and City Attorney Worry About Hummer

6_25_09_hummer.jpgThe LAPD testified that this hummer had full license plates at today’s hearing. Where they intentionally lieing, or hadn’t the officer looked at the pictures that had been submitted? Photo: Luis

On April 24, a gentleman and his family were driving around Downtown Los Angeles in a hummer when a crazed cyclist rammed the back of the vehicle.  Confused and angry, the downed cyclists’ friends surrounded the hummer and threatened the driver.  With only a hummer to protect him and the people he cared for, the driver continued forward, inadvertently striking some of the bikes.  One of the rabid cyclists threw their bike at the vehicle, damaging the mirror.  After he was safely away from the cyclists, the driver pulled over and waited for the police to arrive.

That is the story LAPD Commander Mike Williams presented earlier today of the now-infamous April "bike v. hummer" crash in Downtown Los Angeles.  The LAPD further testified that the only part of the case being pursued by City Attorneys was whether there should be misdemeanor charges filed against the cyclist who "threw their bike at the hummer."

A stunned cycling community, who’s seen the damage to the side, not front, of Andres Tena’s bike and a series of photos that contradict Williams’ version of events; aggressively questioned the reality of the LAPD’s report, prepared by Officer Cho who was not present.  Also not present was Kirk Albanese, the officer who defended the report in front of the full Council in May.

First off, the cyclists on the scene responded that they weren’t harassing the hummer, but were trying to keep it from fleeing the scene because he didn’t have plates.  The LAPD cockily responded with the plate number, but photos of the hummer at the time of the crash clearly show that it was an unmarked vehicle.  Those pictures will be available here tomorrow. (edit: That picture is now at the top of the post.)

Second, the hummer wasn’t "waiting for the police to arrive" it was fleeing the scene with a bicycle underneath the grille when a squad car pulled it over blocks from the crash.  Williams responded that the report did not mention the bicycle underneath the hummer. 

4_27_09_bike_hummer.jpgThe LAPD claims to have never seen this picture, nor others I have witnessed presented at the Police Commission and to the Inspector General.

Third, the LAPD never responded to my query about what the condition of Tena’s bicycle was and what that says about the laws of physics and the crash.  What did the secret "publicly available report" say about the bicycle?  Was it damaged in the front from where it collided with the hummer?  Crickets.

The most moving testimony was again given by Tena, sitting to my right on the witness stand.  Proving that you don’t have to be an experienced public speaker to move an audience, Tena recounted the story of the crash that left him hospitalized.  To recap, he never saw the hummer until it was passing him and he was falling.  He was sideswiped from behind, couldn’t stand after the crash and suffered a badly sprained ankle and back pains.  He did not run into a hummer from behind, he was just a hungry sober kid, biking home from a party, who was hit by a hummer.  Gone was the smile and good humor that he showed when we last chatted back in May, and he testified that he has good and bad days and is sometimes scared to get on his bike…his primary form of transportation.  Don’t get me wrong, he was back to his smiling self after the hearing, but it takes a toll to hear the police spread misinformation about one of the worst days of your life and forming a defensive wall around your attacker.

Wendy Greuel, Bill Rosendahl and Bernard Parks were the only Councilmen present.  "Bike Friendly" Councilman Tom LaBonge left before the bicycle portion of the hearing and Richard Alarcon was a no-show for the second week in a row.  Greuel and Parks seemed annoyed and confused by the LAPD’s bizzarro world report, but Rosendahl seemed angry.

Rosendahl asked that the LAPD return to once again try and actually bring a copy of the "accident" report as well as the report being prepared by the Inspector General.  "I don’t want to do this again," the Westside Councilman said, referring to holding a hearing on a report that hasn’t yet been provided to the Council.

What kind of a justice system do we have if a hummer can sideswipe or
rear-end a cyclist and get the city to seek damages on his behalf? 
What hope do us common-folk have getting a fair hearing from the LAPD
when they won’t even provide their report, a public document, to the
City Council when it’s been a month and a half since it was first
requested and today was the third hearing on the issue?

Ironically, the clash over the "bike v. hummer" crash followed a report from Williams where he admitted that the LAPD needs to do more internal education on what obligations that bicyclists have on the road and for what they can and cannot be ticketed.  The LAPD is working on a re-education program as part of an officer’s continual training that would clarify the rules of the road for cyclists and pedestrians.  While this is a good step, Williams was unable to make the mental leap that maybe, Officer Cho who prepared the "bike v. hummer" report could use a refresher himself.

However, just because the LAPD realized there may be a gap in their training and working to address it; not everyone was happy with the news.  Aurisha Smolarski, of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, wanted a chance for the cycling community to look at the training documents before the training starts.  Stephen Box noted that the police seem more concerned with finding out how they can most effectively ticket cyclists, not how to protect and defend their rights on the streets.

There were a lot more issues, both about bikes and not, covered at today’s meeting. Look for the rest of the stories tomorrow.

  • I think this one comes under the heading of, well, what did you expect?

    As much as I respect individual officers, as an institution, LAPD seems incapable of self-examination, let alone admitting the possibility of error. So no matter how many times cyclists point out that their conclusions in this case don’t align with the physical evidence – or the laws of physics – they will continue to come back and blame the victim.

    That was why I sent an open letter to the committee members prior to today’s meeting, asking them to insist on a complete and honest report. From the sounds of it, they didn’t get it, though it does sound like Rosendahl is going to insist on getting a full report if nothing else.

    As for that police bike re-education program, it’s available right now as a free download at massbike.org/police. All they have to do is update it to reflect the slight variations in California and L.A. laws — like the fact that riding on the sidewalk is legal here, and you no longer need an impossible to get bike license.

  • It was the best of days, it was the worst of days…”

    It was great to see the cycling community so well represented with folks from the four corners of bike land. It gives me hope!

    It was so depressing to see the same old pony show as the LADOT and the LAPD cling to the culture of “NO!” and the Council grinds so slowly.

    Through it all, we’re gonna see significant change in this city, of that I’m certain!

    See you on the Streets!

  • Listening over the internet today, I was struck by how much microphone time the Hummer driver’s rear view mirror (which was *ahem* “vandalized”) got.

    If nothing else, the behavior of these city departments has helped galvanize the cycling community towards some common goals.

    Roadblock is the man for spitting my game about how we need to measure the number of people being moved on the streets instead of cars. In answer to his question about this to the council, it wouldn’t take too much to make this sort a couple of findings and pass an ordinance to allow this sort of measure to be used in LA. The General Plan’s mobility section has a monitor and evaluate page that would be ideal to add this sort of throughput measure to as part of the LADOT (or whomever’s) regular regime of road measurement.

  • nobody

    The answer is obvious…the rider needs to sue the City of LA for a ridiculous sum. They won’t take this seriously until a court case forces them to.

  • Class action discrimination lawsuit anyone?

  • Ed

    I am a cyclist and a huge supporter of all things cyclist related from a policy stand point. That said, I do not follow blindly all things my fellow cyclists do. The cyclists there that night were totaly in the wrong! You do not act like a savage and attack a family in a vehicle, because you have a novice cyclist hit the guys car. If I were in that hummer I would have done the same thing. Dial 911 and get my children out of there. It boils down to someone getting a hold of the cyclists who act like savages and controling them. Or you as “Crank Mod” run the risk of someone getting seriously hurt, and all of your hard work to put a good face on cyclist goes down the tubes. Lets not act like savages and throw your bike at a car carrying a family people. The victim in the hummer should sue every one of the Mid-Night Riddazz, who were there at the scene. Extract your heads people, the view and air is much clearer out here.

  • I must say, Ed, to the novice “internetter” your troll would be most effective. However, to those of us who’ve been through the adequacy.org, rotten.com, and 4chan grinder your effort looks quite amateurish.

  • You’re ‘tubes pass has been revoked!

  • joe

    I am glad there are people that can take the time to keep the pressure on this subject.

  • Ubrayj your message of measure people moved not vehicles moved makes fucking sense to the infinite level. I’m completely surprised that this simple logic isn’t the number one mantra for a transportation department? Are there examples of other DOT agencies that follow this logic that we can throw out as examples?

  • Ed. you idiot. there was no family in the Hummer. That writing was parody. It was a bunch of people coming out of a club in DTLA from partying at 1am or so.

  • Erik G.

    Must move more cars…Cars are more important than anything else…Cars are always right, never wrong…Cars pay the gas tax and the parking fees that pay for the LADOT…Must move more cars…

  • Ed

    Umberto Brayj and roadblock, you two TROLLS are demostratably, obtuse dolts. It doesn’t matter if the Hummer driver was alone, you don’t act like a SAVAGE, period! Now if the hummer driver slammed on his brakes and meant to harm the cyclists, then remain civilised and be a good witness. But that’s not what happened, our fellow “cyclists” acted like a bunch of bullies, and they got checked. Suck it up and ride on, malcontents. Maybe you two bed-wetters should get your mugs out of each others laps and back into reality. Rinse, wash and repeat.

    I will agree with some of the others, in that Los Angeles and the City government is absolutly inept and not for the cyclists bill of rights, nor anything to do with producing more bike lanes. And that is pretty clear by the lack of action in getting the bike lanes panted and secure.

  • Ed,

    What the hell are you talking about. A hummer, with no plates, hits a cyclists and tries to flee so other cyclists block the vehicle, how is this acting like savages? What is savage is the 40,000 Americans killed by automobiles on our roads in this country every year, that is what is truly savage. I could go on but I don’t want to waste too much time with you, who are obviously the TROLL as you put it.

  • Ed,

    Kudos on your second effort – much better! I should note, to Gary, that many of these young toughs and malcontents on bicycles carry on their persons numerous tattoos and other indica that signal their membership of a tribal, savage, subculture. These folks are dangerous! They gathered around a car trying to flee the scene of a crime and wanted the driver to wait (!) until police arrived! There is nothing more dangerous to our economy than a car driver inconvenienced.

  • I guess if you were unfamiliar with the story, you could miss the sarcasm at the top of the post. I apologize for any confusion, but that being said the rest of the story makes the point pretty clear.

    The hero of this story is clearly Tena, a young man burdened with physical and mental wounds from the crash who still bears no ill will towards the driver or LAPD.

  • Ed says “Be a good witness.”

    Ahahahahahaha!

    Not. Gonna. Happen!

  • sarcasm indeed. Ed. you need to get informed. the people who called the cops were the cyclists NOT the party goers in the Hummer. that should tell you something. the hummer was stopped by a cop after he was spotted with a bike under his car.

  • Ed

    Ummm, hi y’all, this is Ed!

    I just came to say that you people can suck a bunch of eggs. Cars rule, cyclists drool!

    Westside!

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