Call to Action: No Justice for Cyclist in Beverly Hills Hit and Run Suggests Pattern of Contempt.

PaulLivingstonDSC_3046

Last summer Paul Livingston, an experienced cyclist of 15 years, was commuting along Santa Monica Blvd heading east through Beverly Hills. He began slowing as he approached a stale red light. Relaxed, it was about 6pm on a clear skied Sunday afternoon and his lane – the right lane – was clear. He was estimated to be moving at about 8 miles per hour. Suddenly his world changed forever. Witnesses describe an impatient and unpredictable driver racing in and out of pockets heading east towards the soon to be green light that Paul was approaching. Paul had no chance. He was smashed from behind and thrown. It was reported that the driver never braked but instead accelerated to get away after impact.

Paul Livingston

The impact was so harsh that Paul suffered multiple spinal and pelvic fractures, severe internal bleeding and abdominal injuries. He spent 6 days in a coma and another month in the hospital. Doctors performed spinal fusion surgery to 5 levels of his vertebrae. Because of his disability he was let go from his job at SIR Hollywood, and as a result his medical insurance was terminated. With no ability to work he lost his apartment soon after. Paul’s hospital bills add up to well over $1 million dollars. The driver not only left Paul with a massive hospital bill, she stole a life’s joy from him as he lie broken in the street that day. Paul may never again ride a bicycle. None of the witnesses that stayed managed to get a plate, just a vehicle description.

According to Beverly Hills PD a break came the next day when the alleged driver, Victoria Chin, phoned in to confess her crime. Detectives arranged for her to turn herself in that day. They requested she bring the car in as well. This is where things apparently got complicated for the Beverly Hills Detectives. After flaking on her first appointment, Chin showed up the following day along with a lawyer but without her car. Beverly Hills Detectives acknowledge that they failed to process her confession and they sent her home without booking or arresting her.

Months later, citing issues not fully understood, the case was declined by District Attorney Steven Katz. Katz claims that since there was no car in custody, and the woman confessed on the phone and not in person, there was not enough evidence to move forward with a case. Questions arise of whether this is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of Beverly Hills apathy towards cyclists… Paul was not the first hit and run victim in recent memory to be denied justice by the city.

A little over 2 years ago, myself, Alex Thompson, Sara Bond and a group of cyclists had staged a “Blood In Press Conference” to protest the less than slap on the wrist nature of verdict handed down in the Louis “Birdman” Deliz trial. This was a highly watched case in which 19 year old Celine Mahdavi nearly killed Deliz with a left hook before fleeing the scene in her black SUV. Deliz was left severely maimed and bleeding in the street unable to move. Mahdavi was caught blocks later, drunk and with huge damage to her car’s side panel. At the sentencing in Beverly Hills Superior court, Judge Elden Fox gave Mahdavi no jail time and 90 days community service. The cycling community was outraged, and with good reason, a pattern of apathy was emerging.

During the year and a half period between Birdman’s hit and run incident and the suspect’s sentencing came yet another case of hit and run injustice. Brandon Chau, a UCLA student had been rear ended at a red light and knocked off his bike. While he didn’t suffer significant injuries, his back wheel was taco-ed and Chau was left without his main mode of transportation. A witness got the plate and a description of the driver, but the Beverly Hills Police Department perplexed the cycling community when they refused to move forward. Alex Thompson of BikesideLA led a public comment action at Beverly Hills City Hall and 11 cyclists showed up to bring the City Council’s attention to the injustice. As a result of that action, the Beverly Hills Police Department re-opened the case and a sentence was handed down to the driver.

Recently, yet another case emerged in which Hal Bergman, a professional photographer and cyclist was forced off his bicycle by a road raging driver who ran over his bike. After turning herself in blocks later, police refused to move forward. Pattern or not, the fact is, the severity of the Paul Livingston case and cases like it need to be brought time and again to the attention of the powers that be if there is to be any hope of justice.

On Thursday August 23rd, anyone who commutes by bicycle in or through Beverly Hills is encouraged to ride out and join us for public comment period during the next scheduled Beverly Hills City Council meeting. We will be having a public comment workshop about an hour before the doors open. The Council is actually pretty personable and allows some limited back and forth discussion at times. We will be asking specifically for justice for Paul Livingston and for Beverly Hills to protect cyclists more vigorously as a policy.

Join us and get your voice in:

Beverly Hills City Council Meeting
7pm Thursday August 23rd in Room 400
Beverly Hills City Council
455 N. Rexford Drive
GOOGLE MAP
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Phone: (310) 285-1013
Fax: (310) 275-8159

Group ride from Sunset / Vermont Metro Redline Station
August 23rd meet at 4:30pm ride at 5pm
Easy paced group ride to Beverly Hills City Council
GOOGLE ROUTE MAP

Pre-meeting Public Comment workshop 5:45pm
Those who plan to speak are encouraged to meet at City Hall main entrance
prior to the 7pm meeting to go over speaking points and ensure they are cohesive.

  • April Economides

    This is tragic. Please spread this video in Beverly Hills and beyond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JQbuFRZzoI&feature=player_embedded.

  • Alex Thompson thank you for all your efforts.  Many people would be lost without you.

  • I got into a hit and run riding my bike home from my office in Beverly Hills one time.  Black Nissan Altima or Maxima.  Right hook, person decided to turn right at the last minute while I was next to them and barreled me over. 

    It was at the intersection of La Cienega and Dwight Way.  I’m not technically sure it is still Beverly Hills at that intersection, but I didn’t even bother to call the police because I figured if it was Beverly Hills, they wouldn’t do jack shit.  I went down so hard people stopped their commutes in Rush Hour to make sure I was okay.  Car was long gone.

  • PC

    “Apathy” is the wrong word for this. Beverly Hills, especially its police department, actively dislikes cyclists who have the temerity to ride on its streets. They have made this more than clear over the years with the way they treat cyclists–harrassing them when they ride through, and then suddenly losing interest in them when they’re hit and injured by cars.

    So why be mealy-mouthed about it? Apathy, my ass. This is contempt.

  • Roadblock

     good point.

  • I had someone nearly side swipe me because I was passing a slower cyclist. His excuse when I caught up to him in traffic? “You’re supposed to be riding single file!” Yeah, sure, that’s what you’re going to tell the judge when you kill someone?

  • Jas

    Has anyone set up a way to donate money to this fellow? Is there any chance now to hold Victoria Chin liable for her actions? Can a higher authority be brought in to investigate and punish the BHPD for their contempt? This is disgusting and primitive behavior and word should be spread much further.

    If Victoria Chin has an ounce of decency she should go back and give a full confession, pay her dues, APOLOGIZE, and get her insurance involved to help the person who she injured terribly. I don’t know how someone could ever live with themselves given the current situation.

  • Gregory

    Is Victoria Chin’s insurance paying for his bills?  Is he currently pursing a civil case against her?

  • david

    Why didn’t the BHPD arrest her and have her car impounded as evidence? She fled from the scene of a horrible accident that they know was her fault, because she admitted guilt, and they let her walk? How disgusting!

  • Roadblock

    Yes he is and that seems to be what the police and DA want to see more of is privatization of “justice.” Instead of keeping people accountable criminally for crimes like this, they would just as soon have insurance companies haggle over how much money is exchanged. Meanwhile the motoring public continues to commit crimes and get away with it.

  • Roadblock

     If the trend continues, these people wont tell any judge anything. They will just run you over, kill or maim you, take off, and if they get caught a slap on the wrist is in order and have an insurance company haggle you until you call uncle and settle for a few grand.

  • Roadblock

     Seems if Beverly Hills PD were on top of this, they would have dispatched a cruiser out immediately
    to the suspect’s home to capture the car and process her confession.
    Waiting around for someone to mull over their options for a day or two
    seems incredibly apathetic.

  • Thank you Don and Paul for sharing this story. Riding in Beverly Hills is way more dangerous than other areas, and it seams the police don’t give a S#!& about cyclists, as well. The hit-and-run laws need to be changed in California; they state that California has sever laws regarding hit-and-run’s, but the fact is these people are still leaving the crime scene. As a cyclist, who has ridden through Beverly Hills regularly (and had numerous encounters with horrible drivers who disregard cyclists lives), and written many letters to the city of Beverly Hills, I’ve come to the conclusion that Beverly Hills and the police just don’t care. No amount of letter writing will change things. They just have way too much backing from big-time money makers in the “entertainment industry”. I will try to be at the meeting on Thursday, and wish all cyclists well.

  • Dan W.

    That Beverly Hills ROW that Metro owns could be turned into a transit corridor for streetcars/light-rail and a bicycle path.  Beverly Hills can put those parking lots underground.

  • yiran756

    tinyurl.com/cyk9xz2

  • Jack

    Wow Paul plays in My Reggae Band at Kings Row on Sundays, Pasadena, CA!

  • Ever since Alex Thompson got a job, I’m not getting bikeside e-mails any more.  I’d like to be put on an e-mail list so I can come out and support this stuff.  alexkenefick@gmail.com

  • Don Ward

    THANK YOU to every one who came out last night to speak their minds. I counted 21 people including the show stealing local residents Daniela Solomon and her two young daughters who simply want safe streets to ride for some ice cream.

  • Paul Livingston

    I’d like to express my deep gratitude and thanks to everyone who showed up last night at the city council meeting, especially those that stepped up to the mic. I was truly overwhelmed by all the support. And a special thanks to Don Ward for getting my story out there and organizing this call to action. This is just the beginning and I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

  • Paul Livingston

    True true!
    Come out and get irie yo!
    3-6pm every Sunday

  • I’m glad I took the time to go and support you and the cycling community, I don’t think the BHCC was ready for all of us which was great because I think it made a bigger impact. Let me know if there are any other ways to help. And yes Don did a great job organizing and leading our group.

  • Danielle Salomon

    Thanks, Don, for taking the lead and showing us the ropes!  It was truly moving to see a cohort of dedicated and eloquent cyclists demonstrate their support for Paul and other victims. We are committed to becoming more active in our advocacy and look forward to more opportunities to do so. Ice cream for everyone!

  • Don
  • jennix

    Did this ever resolve? How about a follow up?

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