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LA road rage doctor gets five years 

Update on my story posted November 4th 2009.

The California physician, convicted of assaulting a pair of cyclists with his car, was sentenced to five years in prison at the close of a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court this morning, Friday 8th January, 2010.

Sixty-year-old Christopher Thomas Thompson, found guilty of six felonies and a misdemeanor, has been in custody since his conviction in November.

Prosecutors had asked that Thompson be sentenced to eight years for crimes mostly relating to a July 4, 2008 incident in which he severly injured two cyclists when he abruptly stopped his car in front of the riders descending Mandeville Canyon road, near Los Angeles.

He told the first police officer on the scene that he intentionally hit his brakes in order to “teach them a lesson.”

Thompson was also convicted of misdemeanor charges relating to a similar incident that occurred months earlier, but did not result in injuries.

Thompson took the stand Friday and accepted full responsibility for his actions, expressed remorse and apologized to Peterson, Patrick Watson and Josh Crosby, who were in attendance on Friday.

“I would like to apologize deeply, profoundly from the bottom of my heart,” he told the three cyclists.

The jury found that Thompson’s actions were criminal and convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving causing specified bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury and mayhem.

Thompson’s troubles will probably not end with his Friday sentencing. His medical license was suspended last month, and a permanent revocation is probable, pending a hearing by the state’s medical licensing board.

Although now reportedly near bankrupt, the founder of a successful medical records technology company, Thompson still faces likely civil action from the victims in the case.

I stated in my previous post on this incident:

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.

The full story in Velo-News whose reporter Patrick Brady was in court for both the trail and the sentencing


Reader Comments (10)

Too bad we often react but do not act. I notice prosecutors "failed to act" in the doctor's previous incident of road rage. I'll bet a simple phone call by the district attorney to Mr Thompson regarding his previous road rage incident could have prevented so much pain and suffering, for both Mr Thompson and his victims.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug P

An excellent observation.

January 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I also agree with Doug. However, I do hope that Mr Thompson gets what he deserves in prison. No doubt he's done it countless times and has only been caught twice. There should be tough sentences for anybody that uses a car for a weapon. I've had people think that they own the road and have tried to knock me off. I tend to wait until they stop at the red lights and then deal with it.

Mr Thompson may you be the prison bitch.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIan Stewart

I search for understanding from this event. I often have outrages thoughts brought about while I cycle and interact with other traffic. As a cyclist my behavior is tempered, thankfully so. I find it telling that as a society where in a trained proffesional, no less a physician , once behind the wheel acts crimanally. As for myself one of my often had thought's is the wish that when a motorist honks at me with their horn the horn would also sound inside the motorist car.

January 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Knoblauch

5 years for assault is pretty good - you'd get a caution in the UK and a £20 fine.

There is a story in the Tameside Advertiser this week about a hit and run driver who hit a 60 year old cyclist, and he didn't even get prosecuted.

Tom - your idea is absolutely fantastic!

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoby

Amazing ... drivers seldom face the consequences of their aggression. And yet he gets five years ... serious time.

I hope this is a turning point in how law enforcement and the courts treat cases such as these.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRider

Let's hope this sets a precedent. No matter what your station in life, it should not provide immunity to prosecution. I'm now waiting to see how former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant's road rage case turns out.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Hopefully Thompson taught others a lesson too, especially the prosecutors. No doubt having all that power in your hands-feet changes people (even those sworn to heal), especially when angered.

When I catch up with drivers who honk at me I often lose my patience and say "you horn works - what about your brain?" I hope this verdict gets front page coverage in the MSM and is highly circulated in legal periodicals.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Perhaps I'm a pessimist, but I'm afraid there will be no precedent here, and the only lesson from this will be not to admit assaulting cyclists:

He told the first police officer on the scene that he intentionally hit his brakes in order to “teach them a lesson.”

If he'd hit them from behind and said, "I'm sorry, officer, I just didn't see them," I suspect he'd be walking around free.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I sadly have to agree with Eric.

The only reason this guy is in jail is because he was dumb enough to say that to the cops. Failing that, he'd have been cautioned and let go.

I had a guy try to run me off the road recently. He was looking at me and grinning the whole way. I wonder what the reaction of any cop I mentioned it to would have been. I don't see the difference between what happened to me and someone waving a gun at me, but what does the law think of it?

People get off all the time because of the 'burden of proof'. I'm a mild person, but sometimes I want to go all vigilante, and take care of it myself.

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYohannM

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