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« What do you call it, accident or negligence? | Main | Miami Critical Mass »

Was it worth it?

A physician who deliberately injured two cyclists with his car was this week found guilty on seven counts that included assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury. He was immediately taken to jail.

This was the culmination of a three week trial in Los Angeles that resulted from an incident on July 4th, 2008, when Dr. Christopher Thompson, a 60 year old emergency room doctor, got into a confrontation with two cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road, Brentwood, CA.

Annoyed at not being able to get by the cyclists on the narrow winding road, the situation escalated when one of the cyclists flipped Thompson off. The doctor cut in front of the cyclists and slammed on his brakes.

One cyclist hit the back of the SUV resulting in broken teeth, lacerations to the face that included needing reconstructive surgery to his nose. The other cyclist fell and suffered a separated shoulder.

Thompson told police, “I just wanted to teach them a lesson.” I think more than anything, the doctor has taught himself a lesson, one that I hope other drivers will get.

Deliberate dangerous moves like cutting cyclists off or slamming on brakes in front of them, have serious consequences.  Thompson could face up to 10 years, but we will have to wait until December, 3rd for the sentencing.

Whatever he gets I’m sure this will cost him financially big time. His defense costs alone for a three-week trial, and I can practically guarantee a civil suit will follow.

If I could ask Dr. Thompson one question right now as he sits in jail, it would be, “Was it worth it?”


Read the story in the LA Times

Update on sentencing on Friday, 8th January 2010


Reader Comments (13)

FYI--I was informed that a civil suit was filed in CA Federal Court on Thurs, the day before the verdict was announced.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@dudeonabike

I decided to read the LA Times article prior to commenting, knowing there were two sides to the story. Unfortunately, aggressive road behavior is on the increase and it didn't surprise me to see this wasn't the doctor's first episode. I suspect the verdicts took that into account and sentencing will as well. Will the outcome have an effect on other drivers? I doubt it. Perhaps the doctor will loose his medical license as well. Isn't there a clause in the oath about causing harm? May he wait unnecessarily long to see a doctor now. May he learn patience.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I've been following this story at velonews.com for the last couple of weeks, and I have to say that it does give me a feeling of justice finally being served. Dr Thompson, s shown by several witnesses at the trial, has a history of being intolerant of cyclists.
The area here in colorado where I bike is much like that around Mandeville - lots of steep clims and descents with few areas to legally pass. However, for a small percentagre of drivers, a cyclist in front of them - regardless of how fast he may be travelling - is an object which MUST BE PASSED. I've had people cross a double yellow in a blind curve to get past me when I was already going 5 mph over the posted 40 mph speed limit.
These acts, whether caused by agression or negligence, all have potentially the same result: loss of life. I think all drivers need to be exposed to this case and to education regarding traffic laws and bicycles.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Not to in ANY way excuse the doctor's actions, but we must notice the pattern of escalation here. The cyclist "flipped off" the driver, provoking violence. The only time I've gotten into a near-violent altercation with a motorist, I too turned back, sneered, and gave him the bird. He deserved it, but it didn't do anything except make him madder.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Thanks, I wanted someone else to bring that up first. Think, would you flip off someone pointing a gun at you?
Nuf said,

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Moulton

There was a similar case here in Australia, not that long ago. In that case, it was a pack of 30+ cyclists riding in one lane of a 3- or 4-lane carriageway. A driver pulled in front of the pack and braked hard. A number of people were injured as a result, not to mention the damage to the bikes themselves. He got away with it by declaring that his car experienced a sudden gearbox failure.

I'm very pleased to see this turd of a doctor convicted. I only hope that the courts continue to punish offenders who go out of their way to harm cyclists.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMax

Dave, I also have been following this as I have ridden on Mandeville Canyon road countless times. I agree that this guy deserves the max punishment. However, I myself have found countless times when cyclists (typically roadies) who will delibertly ride three or more abreast on city streets on LA's westside. I can understand ones frustration trying to pass when a "group" rides in this fashion and ignoring car traffic. I have nothing against "roadies" as I ride the road and dirt too! But if you fail to get out of the way and ride single file (even on Mandeville which is a residential street with a dead end) you are going to piss off people! Even cyclists! Cyclist's rules for the road are basically the same as cars. Unfortunately in this case serious injuries were the result of this asshole. But, if you make an effort to yield and give some respect to cars, the odds are more in your favor to avoid the "finger" and road rage. Try waving once in a while, you'd be surprised at the return reaction ! I've been a commuter on bicycle for over twenty years and I used to ride to Compton ( yes that Compton!) and very rarely did I have any confrontations. To me it's about mutual respect and common sense.If you are going to ride a bike like an asshole then you make all of us who ride look like assholes in the eyes of non cyclists. Hence the problem Thompson has to deal with.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

This is exactly what happened to me about 3 months ago. I woke up in hospital. Unfortunately for me there were no witnesses so i'm left with a brain injury and constant distrust for other drivers.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterawindowonswanston

“I just wanted to teach them a lesson.”

I've read this remark or similar ones from other drivers who deliberately harassed or injured cyclists. Would these people use the same teaching technique if, say, a dog ran into the road ahead of them? Does it ever occur to them that "teaching [a cyclist] a lesson" can leave them permanently damaged, or dead? Do they ever consider that, perhaps, someone might hold the same attitude about them if, for instance, they play music too loudly on their back deck late at night? Or maybe that a cyclist might think it's OK to throw a rock at a car windshield because the driver nearly t-boned him earlier down the road? You can bet your bottom dollar that in this last example the police would be down on the cyclist in a hurry.

The motor vehicle offers anonymity, safety and protection, and a sense of empowerment while at the same time society is very reluctant to punish drivers who behave badly. Cyclists are uniquely vulnerable, and more often than not, I dare say, drivers like Thompson get away with assault and murder.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDIana

I'm very pleased to see this turd of a doctor convicted.I like this post as it is indeed knowledge provider.I agree with the point that A physician who deliberately injured two cyclists with his car was this week found guilty on seven counts that included assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury.Reckless driving should be avoided otherwise it can create uncertainty.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervitamin b

I thought Diana expressed it perfectly when she wrote this -
"The motor vehicle offers anonymity, safety and protection, and a sense of empowerment ...."
How else to imgaine the someone could think that "teaching a lesson" would involve extensive plastic surgery and broken bones, other than that they are anonymous and empowered? Drivers have no sense of how much tonnage they are steering down our hiways and how much damage those vehicles can do to those not simiilarly encased.

November 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Ah, what to do when drivers harass cyclists?
The driver knows what they are doing; do we need to confirm that?
It is far more advanced (and wise) to know when to do nothing, than to know how to do something. This is the hidden tenet of martial arts, known only to a few (the greatest victory is without a fight).
A situation will manifest itself, don’t create it; that is the hidden tenet of a real cyclist.

November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Was it worth it? Obviously not for Dr Thompson, given the costs to him, but the fact is it's never worth it for a driver to harass, threaten or injure a cyclist. The driver's safety is seldom threatened by the cyclist. Usually, the issue is the driver's impatience, and the perception that the cyclist is causing him to slow down. In my experience, car-cyclist problems often result when the driver is peeved because he has to slow down due to the cyclist(s). How much time, really, does a driver such as Dr Thompson lose by having to follow the cyclists, or wait for them to ride single file before passing? 10 seconds? 1 minute? No amount of threatening or harassing a cyclist will recoup that time; if anything, it'll cost more time. I ride a bike and drive a car, and I often have to slow when driving due to other cars. I "lose" more time following cars than bikes, and I am sure this applies to others as well.

December 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermikoglaces
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