Doctor Convicted in Bicycle Crash Case

Nov 17, 2009

A Los Angeles, CA physician accused of deliberately injuring two cyclists by slamming on his car’s brakes was convicted of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and other criminal charges on November 2.


Dr. Christopher Thompson, an ER doctor of Beverly Hospital in Montebello, Calif., was also convicted of battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury, said the Los Angeles Times. He now faces up to 10 years in prison.


Prosecutors alleged that on July 4, 2008, on a stretch of Mandeville Canyon Road in Brentwood, Thompson stopped his car after passing two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single file. The cyclists, Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr, said that they had begun maneuvering to start riding single file when they saw Thompson’s car speed up, pass them dangerously close and then brake abruptly.


Peterson, a coach for USC’s and UCLA’s cycling team, was thrown face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s car. He broke his front teeth and nose and his face suffered multiple lacerations. Stoehr was thrown to the sidewalk and separated his shoulder. A police officer testified that Thompson told him shortly after the accident that the cyclists had cursed at him so he slammed on his brakes “to teach them a lesson.”


Thompson denied the cyclists’ allegations, testifying that he had stopped his car to take a picture of the two, thinking that he had left ample room for them. Thompson said he and a number of residents in the area were disturbed by what they viewed as unsafe behavior by cyclists regularly riding that particular road.


While there is tension between motorists and bicyclists in many major cities across the country, in most states bicycles are entitled to the same use of a full lane as an automobile.  Drivers should be aware of these rights and follow proper traffic protocol around cyclists.


Photo courtesy of jjan9 under the Creative Commons License.