Road Rage Trial

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Not exactly recent news, but we’re not exactly a source for recent ’round these parts. More like day late and dollar short. Hey, we do what we can. You, dear reader, can expect nothing less than mediocrity and mid-pack finishes from the likes of us. But watch your back at the buffet table. I’ve seen Snake lately, and he eats all the pies.

Back to the ranting part. Throw the book at this clown:

A California emergency-room physician faces trial this week on multiple felony charges stemming from a 2008 road-rage case that left two cyclists seriously injured.

Dr. Christopher T. Thompson allegedly braked suddenly in front of Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr after he and Peterson exchanged words as they descended Mandeville Canyon Road on July 4, 2008.

Multiple felony charges… Has a certain ring to it.

After one cyclist slammed into the rear of his car and vaulted over it into oncoming traffic, and another crashed through his rear window, Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson called 911 and told the operator, “They’ll tell you they are seriously injured, but they’re not.”

The man is a doctor. And he said they are not seriously injured. After he injured them. On purpose.

Prosecutors say Thompson, 60, a former ER doctor, purposefully braked in front of the two riders as they descended Mandeville Canyon Road on July 4, 2008.

Cyclist Christian Stoehr hit the back of Thompson’s Infiniti sedan and went over the top into the other lane. His injuries included a grade-3 shoulder separation and road rash. Ron Peterson went through the rear window; the impact broke his nose, nearly severing it, and shattered several of his teeth. More than 90 stitches were required to reattach his nose.

Now the case is underway, and the defense is painting the events in the way most beneficial to their client.

Defense attorney Peter Swarth tried to show a jury that injured cyclists Christian Stoehr and Ron Peterson were already looking for trouble before the confrontation and collision last year. Swarth also suggested that at least one of the cyclists may have simply succumbed to the inherent instability of his bicycle, lost balance and fallen over.

Let us assume that bicycles are inherently unstable. Does it follow that when a bicycle operator fails to control one of these inherently uncontrollable machines, he would end up nearly severing off his own nose by planting his face through the rear window of a passing automobile? And, it also follows that the second cyclist, also succumbing to the inherently instability of his bicycle, was thrown over the same vehicle? How can you explain the requisite force that flung two cyclists into and over the back of passing car without suggesting the car decelerated rapidly, in fact moving into the path of the bicycles?

Unstable is one thing, a catapult is far different. People fall off things that are unstable. Gravity pulls them downward. Momentum carries them forward, not up and over a vehicle traveling in the same direction and at the same velocity. Objects are not launched through the air by proximately located objects; they are launched through the air by things that strike them with enough force to do so, like, for example, a golf club striking a ball. Objects do not plant themselves into the back of proximately located objects; they are forced into them by their own momentum, like, for example, a ball thrown against a wall. The car clearly stopped short. The car became a golf club. The car became a wall.

On Monday, Swarth finished Stoehr’s cross-examination, with questions largely centered on details of his cycling clothing. Swarth questioned Stoehr about his explanation regarding his impact with the rear of the car, wondering aloud how Stoehr ended up on the ground in front of the car. When Stoehr had difficulty explaining the physics involved, Swarth suggested that Stoehr simply lost balance and fell down.

And, if we’re going to talk about controlling vehicles, why not suggest one should be able to control an automobile. You are either 1) out of control when you stop short in front to two cyclist forcing them into your vehicle, or you are 2) in control and know exactly what you are doing and what would follow your choice of action. Ignorance is no excuse in the law, and neither is failing to control an automobile. If you’re driving, and you hurt someone with that vehicle, you are liable.

I don’t have the time or energy to look up the elements of a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon in that jurisdiction. Nor am I currently aware of the length and breadth of whatever other charges Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson is facing in his criminal trial. But I should hope that the state can carry its burden and prove that Dr. Thompson did, in fact, commit an assault with a dangerous weapon on these two cyclists.

Update: Maybe this is more current than I originally thought. Updates to this story are being posted at Velonews as I type. From yesterday’s court testimony by LAPD traffic investigator Robert Rodriguez:

LAPD traffic investigator Robert Rodriguez said he arrived at the scene on Mandeville Canyon Road with the fire department and asked [Dr.] Thompson what happened.

According to Rodriguez, Thompson said, “I just live up the road. I was driving to go to work. The bikers were in front of me, three across. I honked my horn and yelled ‘ride single file.’ The bicyclists flipped me off and yelled back. I passed them up and stopped in front to teach them a lesson. I’m tired of them. I’ve lived here for years and they always ride like this.”

“I passed them up and stopped in front to teach them a lesson.”

We now know Dr. Thompson stopped on purpose. See discussion of why that matters above.

“I passed them up and stopped in front to teach them a lesson.”

Dr. Thompson knew his actions would have consequences. That was his intent. That is why he “passed them up and stopped in front” of them.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

33 Replies to “Road Rage Trial”

  1. yo, sam – easy, buddy. yes, this dude is despicable, but don’t generalize. it’s weak sauce, and just the type that harms people. after all, you are a cyclist–an individual, yet part of a group. the riders involved in this incident were part of a group that became the victims of ONE person’s hatred.

  2. Just because you’re in law school doesn’t mean you have to talk like a lawyer, BJ.
    “Let us assume that bicycles are inherently unstable. Does it follow that when a bicycle operator fails to control one of these inherently uncontrollable machines…. And, it also follows that the second cyclist, also succumbing to the inherently instability of his bicycle… How can you explain the requisite force that flung two cyclists into and over the back of passing car without suggesting the car decelerated rapidly, in fact moving into the path of the bicycles?”

    blibbidyblahblahblah. Translation: the guy stopped short and purposefully fucked up the cyclists. Ease up on the fancy-pants lawyer talk for the sake of your audience (me, at least). I hope for your sake that you’re not gearing up for a personal injury practice. Although, you could beat the other ambulance chasers to the scene if you’re on a bike. Whatever you do, don’t lose your sense of humor and hate on a mate for razzin’ you about becoming a litigious, overly-verbose smartypants.

  3. If I had to pick a type of lawyer that I would have the least amount of respect for, it would be a PI guy. We have an infamous one in town where I live that is regularly proving himself to be a scumbag. What kind of law are you interested in anyways?

  4. I spent two weeks this summer sitting on a jury in a civil case… wait for it… minor rear-end auto accident and sore neck.

    The dude cleared half a million. His snake of a lawyer likely bagged a third of it. That’s more than my wife and I make in a year.

    The case was weak. Both parties drove away from the accident and the “crippling injury” manifested itself three years after the fact, but the defendant was a large corporation and there was “free money” in the air during deliberation. It was a little sickening; justice was not served.

  5. I say we find where this “doctor”* lives. We drag his ass out of bed at ohdarkhundred and have all kinds of fun with blowtorches, Sawzalls, baseball bats, ulocks, nine pound hammers-Hey, it’s a party. Use your imagination forfucksake. We show him a HUNDRED times the hurt he ever thought about bringing on a cyclist.

    And we take the show on the road. Anytime some inbred pigfucker in an F-Shitfifty wants to reinterpret the rules of the road, anytime some type A type values the few seconds he;ll save over our lives, anytime some senile half-blind piece of shit shouldn’t have been driving, anytime some text messaging puke “didn’t see us”, we’ll be there. And we’ll take care of business.

    Life for life. Pain for pain. Works for me.

    *”Do no harm.” Part of the Hyppocratic oath. Yeah, right.

  6. Oh yeah, and as far as I’ve been able to discern, lawyers ain’t got no oath. S’all good though, Jonny. We still love ya.

  7. I know this road very well and used to ride it a lot when i lived in so. cal. a heavily traveled (lots of rich people live there) little-to-no shoulder, fast drivers yammering on their cell phones looking for the nearest starfucks which is at least 4 miles away and cyclist’s who love this ride ( recipe for disaster. in fact the club la grange rides there every week and post on safety in light of this recent event

    It sounds to me like road rage for both parties. yeah dr dumbfuck doesn’t need to teach anybody a lesson and our fellow riders, they need to respect the cars (which will hurt us a lot more than we hurt them) especially in a residential area where we insist on riding. a lot more of us are going to have to deal with the idiocy of our injured friends and the fallout they have created, that clubs like la grange have spent a lot of time advocating respect for and from the people who live where we ride (rode in my. A simple “car back” and give the car a wide berth to pass saves everybody a lot of headache, especially mr peterson and mr stoehr. Personally I’m sick of assholes in their cars that think cyclist’s have no rite to be on the road, but i’m equally sick of cyclist that aggravate and reinforce these ideologies. As cyclist we can control what we put out in the world for our own safety, it only takes one or two dumbshits to undo whatever goodwill, out-reach and education we all are striving for to make the roads safer for us.

    Let’s look at what dr dumbfuck did as a terrible, unforgivable act, but our battered up friends are NOT innocent by any stretch of the imagination and should be admonished for the types of setbacks they create for all cyclist. if you can’t handle sharing the road with the other vehicles on them, then i say get off your road bike go get your mt bike (not at all a slam against mt bikers, we all know it’s a different animal than road riding) and stick to the trails and shut the fuck up, for all of us.
    Good luck in your recovery.

  8. Three words: res ipsa loquitor

    Maybe you got hit, and maybe you’re becoming a laywer, to fulfill your destiny

  9. @Jamie: You’re kidding. I don’t care if your naked in the middle of summer grabbing your package and shooting the finger at every passer-by while trying to piss on their door handles. Nothing, but NOTHING, gives a driver the right to hit another human being.

    Period. Case closed.

  10. I have to agree with James. Bad shit happened but it probably wasn’t the friendly cyclists riding respectfully that drove this guy over the top. A little courtesy goes a long way. As mentioned, he was arguing with them about riding single file. Whether or not it is legal for them to ride side by side is besides the point if it equates to “fuck you in your faster than a bicycle car, we’re talking here” attitude. Imagine every day you drive your car out of your driveway to find some cyclist riding side by side. They’re might be plenty of room to safely pass if they slide single file for a couple of seconds but hey, they have the “right” to be road blocking pricks if that’s how they feel. Not to say that this was the case, I’ve never been to this road and maybe it is unsafe to pass regardless. I’m a cyclist and guess who are the worst drivers in the city where I live..cyclists. No bias there, just the truth. Rules don’t apply to them, but rights do. Not to condone the actions of this Doctor but next time your out riding think of the little things you can do to make everyone happy.

    p.s. tits

  11. Respect on the roads definitely needs to be mutual, and often both sides are guilty of a serious lack of it.

    Regardless…I agree with John. What Dr. dipshit did (apparently attempted more than once according to previous complaints) is not on par with any arrogant road hogging from cyclists.
    I am often critical of the behaviour of my brothers of the bike but this type of action is completely uncalled for. I don’t care if they were making their pee stops in his fucking driveway, his action could have killed someone. He is an arrogant and dangerous ass and I hope he gets his balls crucified in this case. Fortunately he is stupid enough to have dug himself a deep hole to try and climb out of…so good for him and fuck him.

  12. …succumbed to the inherent instability of his bicycle, lost balance and fallen over.

    I read this and started to get pissed at the doc’s lawyer, and then I said well he’s just doing his job trying to lessen the punishment for the piece of shit that is paying him to do so. Even if it means spewing bullshit that he knows is a fucking lie.

    It’s all about the Benjamin’s.

  13. This, my friends is why i am a mountainbiker.. I’ll take my chances with bears , snakes, ticks and the terrain. This stuff angers the fuck outa me and i am with dave 1000%.

    And Snake Hawk, after being misdiagnosed by more than six doctors who told me I couldnt possibly have lyme, when in fact I had it so bad it was shutting down my heart.. I will go ahead and lump them all in a group and label them as arrogant fuck tards. until proven otherwise

    They all deserve a pedal wrench, the big Park one..

    no more coffee for me this morning

  14. I’m afraid I have to agree with some of the sentiments above. Rights come with responsibilities. Particularly the responsibility not to provoke further reaction from someone who’s already proven to have very little regard for your safety. For gods sake people, the law of gross tonnage applies here. Keep that finger in the holster! I know the scenario well and it plays out the same with middle class rednecks as it does with upper class doctors. Heart pumping, adrenaline flowing, you feel invincible, right? You didn’t need to go through this guys rear window to prove to the world he was a douchebag, the burgundy Infiniti with vanity tags already announced that loud & clear. In case you haven’t noticed, our legal system isn’t really set up to deal hard time to people like this. A few thousand dollar fine, maybe lose his license for a while, a few months suspended sentence-ie: a slap on the wrist for this guy. You might have a good civil case but you can bet damn well he can afford a better lawyer than you. Plus his insurance will probably cover it anyway. So in a coupe of years he’s put it all behind him but you still bear the scars, or worse…
    Now, let’s get an angry mob together, go Marcellas Wallace and “get medieval on his ass!”
    Ride safe, people, ride safe.

  15. james and Scottage can both eat a five gallon bucket of dick. I don’t ride to make anyone happy but me, and if the law is on my side, before you even THINK about playing games you’d better make your mind up about whether you’re ready to die. Don’t fuck with me, because I can, and by God I WILL!

  16. “james and Scottage can both eat a five gallon bucket of dick. I don’t ride to make anyone happy but me, and if the law is on my side, before you even THINK about playing games you’d better make your mind up about whether you’re ready to die. Don’t fuck with me, because I can, and by God I WILL!”

    Damn Dave.

    Either that post is fucktarded or I’m drunker than I think I am.

    You will only kill if the law is on your side ??


  17. I’m with Dave. Anyone who intentionally tries to injure me with their vehicle would be well advised to go ahead and kill me.

  18. Let my clarify. I will kill if my life is in peril, or to protect the life of another. There will be plenty of time after the fact to sort out the fine points of the law.

    And you might as well have another drink. Judging by your post it certainly couldn’t hurt.

  19. Hell, might as well have another drink, period. Its Friday. Nothing like a fall Friday for a good piss-up now, is there?

    At the very least I would be visiting the good doctors driveway with a couple boxes of shingle tacks every few weeks. Provoked or not, that guy deserves a serious dose of hell.

  20. Pirata, pissups aside there is no degree of provocation sufficient to justify wht the “doctor” did. Lawyers, wannabee lawyers and armchair lawyers’ opinions be damned; we’re not talking law here. We’re talking right and wrong. Cripes, it’s not unlike if there were abunch of kids outside making noise and whatnot and the “doctor” would have come out the front door and opened up on ’em with a twelve gauge. The term “outlandishly disproportionate” comes to mind. The “doctor” was in his tank, forfucksake. What threat was there to him?

    No, he’ll get no sympathy from me. He’d fry if I had anything to say about it.

  21. theres only room for one Dr. Thompson in my world (and beyond) and the atavistic asshole being discussed ain’t him.

  22. dave – not sure about the post directed at me, but to clarify, generally, I am agreeing with you on the fact there is no provocation that justifies what the bad Dr. did. Flip a finger, tell someone to fuck themselves…whatever. Not cool, but retaliating in a potentially injurious/deadly method is ridiculous.
    And in this case I don’t consider it retaliation, as he was the originator of the confrontation I can safely bet. In fact, I would bet my paycheck on that if I could.

    Normally I take the middle ground and assume there are two sides to the story and the truth lies somewhere between, but in this case, based on what I have seen, I feel confident the Dr. is a sick person with major issues, definitely should not be on the streets, and personally, I would be glad to see him suffer both physically and mentally. Yeah, guess that shows what I am made of…but how was that for a run on sentence?

    I just relish the thought of what he will lose in the civil lawsuits that will surely follow. Whatever time he serves will be underscored by the financial losses he should sustain for the wounds inflicted on those involved. I want to see this guy punished severely. I want him to have to face the repercussions of his actions every day.

    And I hope that just maybe, someday, he will realize what an asshole he is and change for the better. I don’t have high hopes, but I can hope, idealistic as that may be…

  23. It’s just money and time. Flesh and blood and bone or justice is not served.
    Damn, we could use a man like Spike Bike.