Friday, January 8, 2010

Doctor who Assaulted Cyclists with his Car gets 5 Years in Prison

Finally, some justice in the highly publicized case of Christopher Thompson, a former ER doctor who slammed on his brakes in front of two cyclists in July, 2008.

He gets 5 years in prison.

There are many cyclists who think he should be put on a bike, shoved down a hill, then have a car screech to a halt in front of him. Or have his nose and teeth shattered, like Ron Peterson did. (Don't look at that link if you're sensitive, or just ate.)

But as the bumper sticker says, "A nose for a nose makes the whole world stuffy."

Wait, that's not it...

The verdict is a semi-win for bike advocates in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times Blog, LA Now, "Judge Scott T. Millington called the case a 'wake-up call' to motorists and cyclists and urged local government to provide riders with more bike lanes."

Will local government listen?


  1. 5 years... Uphill on a stationary trainer the entire time. ; )

  2. Very diplomatic approach, Sir M. I like your style.

  3. Just glancing though the comments section on the news report, it's so good to see that so many people are able to take such a balanced and impartial view of things without succoming to the need for generalizing, stereotyping or villification of entire segments of the population.

    Sad end to a sad tale.

  4. It is all really sad. It's strange how it all played out. Even as a cyclist, I don't think 5 years in prison is what I would've wanted for that guy. Revoked license? Sensitivity training? Forced to ride in a peloton up Mandeville Canyon while being honked at? Must help paint bike lanes? I don't know.

  5. Well, he's not going to serve anywhere close to 5 years, but your point is still valid. It does seem like a stiff sentence that, I'm sure, was intended to send a message. I suspect the sentence itself was less about punishment of an individual than it was about setting precedent. The verdict itself though was entirely appropriate and in that regard, I have little sympathy for the guy. I'm sure the cyclists in the incident were not entirely innocent victims. There was probably some back and forth before all was said and done...maybe even some history between the parties. And, though I'm not local, I'm sure that cyclists can be (and are) annoying and arrogant on that road, as they can be everywhere (as can be motorists too, btw). I'll even grant you the possibility that the two guys in question were flaming A-holes who went out of their way to annoy and delay the doctor. I'm quite sure, unless the doctor had utterly incompetant lawyers, that all of that and more came out in the trial. And were this a simple traffic accident, I would definitely call them mitigating factors. But the bottom line is that while those things may be annoying and provocative, may make his actions understandable to some and may be the type of thing that gives bitter, uninvolved people a dark sense of justice served; none of it in any way gives a person the right to actively and deliberately try to hurt, maim or kill another person. End of story. And that is why the verdict came down as it did. It's not a question of cyclist's rights, driver privilege or right of way. It's a simple case of one person losing control, stepping over the line and attacking another out of rage, ego and self-rightous indignation. And that can simply not be allowed in any form.

  6. I should give you a column on my very prestigious blog :)

    Those were my thoughts exactly, except you wrote them more eloquently...which is what I'm supposed to do...

  7. The Doc inflicted an unnecessary amount of damage to that biker's face. For what? Because he was having bad day and doesn't know how to control himself? He deserves five years. Or five years without a car. If I were the judge, I would have sentenced him to riding a bike to work every day.

    It amazes me that Dr. Break Face, who worked in the ER, would be so callous. He knew exactly what could happen. I don't have stats on how many bikers get into accidents with cars, but I'm willing to wager that the doc had worked on, or at least seen in the hallways, some of those patients in the past.

    Prior to owning a bike, I was really annoyed at having to share the road with bikers. But I'd never intentionally brake in front of one. That's crazy. My car's a pile, but I like having a rear windshield.

  8. HA! You'd think someone without a heart would at least think of protecting his rear windshield. If I recall correctly, photos showed he had a fancy Infiniti. From a sample of 2, the first being the lady that doored me with her gold Audi, it seems the majority of cyclist-hating drivers are obsessed with their fancy cars. But even accidentally destroying the offender's car isn't somehow as satisfying as it seems... Although I truly enjoyed turning around to witness the gold-Audi carnage my shoulder and right break caused--the door was hanging by a hinge. That's what Audi lady gets for exclaiming "MY CAR!" after opening her door into a bike lane without looking instead of, "OMG! Are you ok?" Heartless.