Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The sentencing of Dr Christopher Thompson

Professional cyclist Dave Zabriskie is organizing a letter writing campaign for the sentencing of Dr Christopher Thompson coming up in LA.

Here is my letter. Click the link to Zabriskie's page to get details. Send yours.

District Attorney Stone -

I am writing with respect to the upcoming sentencing of Dr. Christopher Thompson. I commute to work on
my bicycle everyday, and am acutely aware of the general dangers posed by mixing my bike with high powered
heavy automobiles. I can accept the risk that someone - including myself - might make a mistake out on the roads
that causes an injury to myself, given that I am not protected by thousands of pounds of steel. I have analyzed the
risk and have deemed the value I get - and give to society by reducing my use of common resoursces - outweighs
said risk.

What I cannot accept is extra risk injected into the system by those like Doctor Thompson who intentionally
try to harm other human beings. The action of intentionally running a car into another person is no different
than shooting a gun at them, and should be treated as such. Being in a car has desensitized some weak people
to the point they don't realize that they are absolutely attempting murder when they attempt to run over a cyclist.

Many of Doctor Thompson's friends will point to his body of work outside of his motor vehicle and indicate that he
is a wonderful human being. I do not accept this premise. He is highly educated and a physician, and there is no excuse
for him not to understand the consequences of his actions. The assault on Peterson was not the first time he used
his car in such a manner - so there is no credibility to the thought that he didn't understand what he was doing - the
trend is clear. Many brutal murderers were wonderful people aside from their crime and they were sentenced to long
prison terms. Doctor Thompson should be no different.

This sentence is very important in that Doctor Thompson is not alone in his inhumane mindset. The perception seems
to be that driving a car into someone being akin to piloting an avatar in a videogame. The reality is
that you can kill a living breathing human being. One first step in making it very clear that society sees it that way would be
by sentencing Doctor Thompson to the maximum possible sentence for his heinous acts.

John Murphy

San Francisco, California.

More at Cyclelicious

And Amateur Earthling


Brent said...

Thanks for the heads up. Here's mine:

I am a pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist. Since 1996, I have walked to work, a twenty-minute journey from my apartment to my office in Century City. Last year, I returned to my teen-age passion for bicycling, when I purchased a new bicycle on July 4, 2008. Since then, I have regularly ridden more miles weekly than I drive.

I find it symbolic that Dr. Christopher Thompson’s attack on Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr happened on the very day I restarted my cycling life. My walking experience in Los Angeles has always carried its dangers, but bicycling has proven to be on a different level altogether. In the short time since I returned to riding, I have had several close calls with cars, with many incidents bordering on the intentional, or at least grossly negligent.

I know neither the injured cyclists nor the doctor, but when Thompson was convicted, I felt a palpable sense of relief. This conviction delivers an important message to the drivers of Los Angeles, that sharing the road with non-motorists is the law, and that breaking the law has serious consequences.

Thompson now faces sentencing. From what I understand, one possible outcome is probation. If such light sentencing emboldened him to return to the streets with a renewed desire to “teach cyclists a lesson,” I would be horrified. For the sake of my safety, and for the safety of the many law-abiding road users in this great city, he needs to be kept off the roads for as long as possible.

Murali Krishnan said...

And mine:

Dear District Attorney Stone,

I want to commend you for your work in prosecuting the assault case of Doctor Christopher Thompson. I have followed the case from the time the assault was reported.

I have a particular interest since I am a frequent bicycle rider, including an everyday bicycle commuter. I should state that in my experience, the VAST majority of California drivers are courteous to and respectful of bicyclists. Although my comrades tend to focus on the rare friction when discussing bicycle/car interactions, these really are rare. When both parties are acting respectfully and responsibly, we coexist harmoniously.

Although I have been thrust in to a few dangerous situations, these have always been the result of driver inattentiveness, recklessness, or just incompetence. I have (thankfully) never encountered a purely malicious driver.

Many drivers are unaware that California Vehicle Code section 21200 grants equal status to bicyclists to the road as to motor vehicles. This ignorance itself is not a threat. A rare few (like Dr. Thompson) are not only ignorant of this law, but also feel empowered to punish cyclists by physical assault with a deadly weapon (their motor vehicle). Is this any different than a driver punishing a perceived jaywalker by running him over? No one can justify violent "road rage".

Too often, the law reinforces the perception of cyclists as secondary road citizens. Sometimes this is by not prosecuting motor vehicle assaults on cyclists. Sometimes this is by prosecuting but handing a the convict a minimal sentence, one that communicates to society that the violence of the act was insignificant.

I urge you to request the judge to enact the harshest sentence possible. Two citizens were physically mutilated, and could have easily been killed by Dr. Thompson. The justice system needs to make the statement that this was a serious crime.

Otto Cilindri said...

This ought to be treated as a case of assault with a deadly weapon. When you license a man to drive on the roads, you require that he will do so carefully, and to do so with malice in mind, and intent to maim or kill, is against every thing the law contemplates in a citizen...

I'd settle for a long term in jail, but I think he ought to be sentenced to the loss of his thumbs for the first conviction and the loss of his feet for a second.

Unknown said...

The letter to the judge mistates the facts. The driver did nor run into the cyclists, they rean into him. He should appeal. The last time I checked the law is on the side of the individual who was rear-ended. The person to the rear (car, motorcycle, or bicycle) has the legal duty to be in control of their vehicle and be able to stop their vehicle in time to avoid running into the vehicle in front. That's why if you rear end someone you are always legally liable...whether you slipped on ice, couldn't see, etc.

Regarding the bicyclists, I don't think it was necessary for one of them to yell an expletive. That person made the situation worse with their rudeness. Believe it or not, bicyclists have a duty to follow the traffic regulations just like cars. All too often I see bicyclists run a red light and dart in front of my vehicle and give me a dirty look as if I had run the light. If the person were in a vehicle instead of on a bike, there would be no question that they were in the wrong. Why does that change just because the person is on a bicycle? One time I was trying to pull onto a busy street. Another motorist had the courtesy to stop and let me out. A group of bicyclists behind the motorist passed him to the right even though they must have known he was letting me out.

murphstahoe said...

"Regarding the bicyclists, I don't think it was necessary for one of them to yell an expletive."

If someone tried to kill me - I'd tell him to fuck off too. Which is exactly what happened that day. Period. You may disagree - but 12 people more important than you do not. He can rot in hell.