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Brentwood doctor pleads not guilty to injuring cyclists

Biker_2 A Brentwood physician who allegedly injured two cyclists last summer by slamming on his car brakes in front of them on Mandeville Canyon Road pleaded not guilty today. Prosecutor Mary Stone alleges that Christopher Thomas Thompson hit his brakes after a confrontation with cyclists who were riding down the narrow road.

The resulting impact flung one cyclist through the car’s rear window and the other to the pavement. Thompson, 59, allegedly told police during the July 4 incident that he stopped his red Infinity sedan in front of the cyclists to “teach them a lesson.” The physician complained that cyclists frequently traveled the residential street in Brentwood and that he was “tired of them,” Los Angeles police Officer Robert Rodriguez testified during a preliminary hearing last month.

Thompson is charged with one felony count of reckless driving causing injury and two felony counts of battery with serious injury, two counts of causing “great bodily injury” to the cyclists while attempting to commit a felony and one count of mayhem for other severe injuries to one of the cyclists. He also faces one count of misdemeanor reckless driving causing injury in an incident with another cyclist on the same road in March.

Thompson and his attorney are expected to move to dismiss the case next month; a trial has been set for March 6.

-- Joanna Lin

Photo: Special to the Times

Comments () | Archives (238)

My sympathies are with the doctor. Far too often I see pretentious idiots wearing tights who think they are Lance Armstrong riding bicycles recklessly. This incident is an excellent example. How fast does a bicyclist have to be moving to generate enough force to ram their head through the rear windshield of a car.? The fact of the matter is that these bicyclists were riding way too fast and were a hazard to everybody on that road. By their own admission when the doctor told them to ride single-file (AS REQUIRED BY LAW) they hurled profanities at him and made threats. I'll bet they were chasing the car and thought they could catch him at the bottom of the hill.

I live in the area and recently had to call 911 twice due to bicyclist's rude and dagerous behavior. While I cannot condone what Dr. Thompson did, I can understand why he was tired of them. He has to llive with them every day. They are arrogant, ride close to the middle of the right-hand lane on Sunset and won't move to let cars go on their way. They seem to want to teach us as lesson. They like to ride during rush hour when parents are trying to get their kids to school on time and others are trying to get to work. They appear to be daring drivers to hit them. When drivers honk or pull up and ask them to move over for everyone's safety, they release a stream of obscentities. Something needs to be done in this neighborhood because it is getting very dangerous and difficult to navigate the roads when cyclists are present and the cyclists are not showing courtesy nor are they behaving in good faith.

Some physician! Total discredit to his profession and a coward to boot.

I sure wouldn't want this guy to be MY doctor!

I hope he ends up bankrupt because of this. I don't want him to go to jail, though, because I don't want to have to pay for his room and board. He doesn't deserve any of my money or support.

I find this deeply disturbing. I can understand how a motorist would be annoyed with cyclists sharing their roads, but the truth is, there is just as much entitlement to the road for a cyclist, as for a motorist.

There is no excuse to maliciously cause injury to these cyclist, none

I don't doubt that unkind words were exchanged, and that the cyclist could have done a better job of diffusing the situation when they had discussed it before hand, but that this doctor has the audacity to plead not guilty to these crimes is shocking to me. What did you think was going to happen? You slammed on the breaks infront of cyclists? Don't doctors take hypocratic oaths or something?

It is unfortunate these two had to bear the brunt of the frustration caused by all bicyclists

If he some how manages to weasel his way out of this before a proper trial I can guarantee the growing cycling movement in Los Angeles will not take it laying down, there will be protests. This has been the case we've all been watching and hoping that justice might finally prevail against ruthless drivers who threaten cyclists lives. That fact that he is a doctor who took the Hippocratic oath and did not offer aid to the people he could have killed through his malice actions, makes this all the more damning.

Look up CVC 21202, cyclists are legally allowed FULL use of the right hand lane.

James Sullivan: i really hope i dont become your neighbor the way you rationalize the behavior of the "good" doctor i'd be scared to live near you. You might off one of my kids for being too loud and playing outside

My sympathies are with the bicyclists. Far too often I see pretentious idiots in BMWs who think the road belongs only to cars. This incident is an excellent example. How quickly does a car have to slam on the brakes to generate enough force that a bicyclist would end up ramming his head through the rear windshield?

The fact of the matter is that doctor felt he owned the road and was a hazard to everybody on that road, whether in a car or on a bicycle. By his own admission to the police officer, the doctor told them he was going to "teach them a lesson". I'll bet he thought he was entitled to use violence toward the young men.

James, since when can a bicycle compete with a car? The Dr was 'tired' of cyclist on 'his' road? So he attempts to kill them?!?! So if I'm tired of people walking across my street I should teach them a lesson and run them over too? Also, what law are you referring to that cyclist must ride single file? That is not a law.

Just stay out of the way and no one gets hurt.

There are idiot bicyclists, just as there are idiot drivers.

That said, to assault someone with a deadly weapon, which is what a car is, just as a gun, is a big-time felony, or should be. Slow drivers or bad drivers, like cyclists, do not deserve death or maiming because they impede or insult. This is not the wild west or the hood.

And cyclists, of which I am one, must ABSOLUTELY grow up AN AWFUL LOT. Riding a bike does not earn immunity from courteous or considerate behavior.

Cyclists have every right to be on the road that cars do. If a cyclist feels that it is safest to "take a lane" they may do so. This is a simple fact based on CA state law.

Claiming that cyclists are pretentious or reckless for exercising their right to ride is complete nonsense and really only goes to show the arrogance and self importance of the drivers making such statements. Yes, cyclists are also required to stop at stop signs and follow traffic regulations. But by the same token, they are legally allowed to ride on Sunset and during rush hour.

What Dr. Thompson is simply reprehensible. He intentionally caused terrible injury and attempted to do so on a separate occasion. He should be punished severely because there is absolutely no excuse for what he did.

I understand completly the Dr's frustration. What he did was just totality unjustified. Everyone loses in this case. If the city or county can't put a spearate bike lane in this hazzardious area. They need to post no bike riding. More people will be killed if not. People that ride here are just plain stupid and are risking thier lives to make a point.

I would like to remind a few of the posters here that it is not acceptable in our society to hurt people who you judge to be violating traffic laws, or because you perceive them to be arrogant or dressed in odd clothing.

I am curious as to why the doctor was not charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

At the very least these two cyclists were being obnoxious, which in a legal sense probably works against the motorist because it would established motive. On the other hand, a public thoroughfare is provided for people to get from Point A to Point B, not as a venue to indulge in ego masturbation by irritating or threatening others. That this goes on all the time and everywhere is a sad statement on human nature.

If these two were tailgating a car on brakeless racing bikes (which seem for some incomprehensible reason to be increasing popular for street use), that's another story. They're idiots.

I hope the court system teaches the doctor a lesson. What a shameful, petty, harmful thing for someone to do. Especially someone sworn to the Hippocratic Oath!

I agree with the others. The cyclists are arrogant and ride very dangerously. They ride way too fast and hog the road. Mandeville Canyon is very narrow and windy, plus there is no sidewalk. Often I will see nannies and housekeepers walking along the side of the road, (some even with strollers), and they are often at risk of being hit by a cyclist! I've also witnessed aggression from the cyclists- banging on cars and swearing at people. Something really should be done!

The ignorance and extreme selfishness of James Sullivan and Dee are shameful. I hope that when you see your kids, nieces or nephews riding their bikes on the street with drivers like you and the Doctor, that you will change your outlook. Think about a raging motorist punishing your loved ones for delaying them 30 seconds. It will be different when your loved one is bleeding on the pavement you selfish ignorant people.

Your canyon. Everybody's streets.

I ride my bicycle often in Hollywood, obey traffic laws, and have never sworn at anyone while on my bike, unless it was under my breath. I've never flipped anyone off, or not done my best to stay out of the way of cars, especially when they exhibit signs of impatience (which are very easy to detect) often going on the sidewalk to yield my legal, but not prudent, right of way. Yet every time I ride I get honked at, sworn at, flipped off, or endangered by a road rage maneuver, usually the driver cuts their car in front of me quickly at a dangerously close distance. No one has slammed on their brakes yet, but it's probably only a matter of time.

All Los Angeles citizens need to think about bicycles, and cyclists and drivers alilke need to modify our behaviour. We can't ride a bike in defiance of traffic laws (not stopping at signs and signals for instance) and then expect drivers to treat us as equals. Disobeying traffic laws sends the message, intended or not, that we're above the law.

Drivers need to remember that a few moments of patience toward a cyclist can save a life, and might make that cyclist take measures to get out of the way if they are treated with courtesy.

Road rage against cyclists is illegal and dangerous and should be punished accordingly, but swearing at cars and blocking them when they honk at you is only inviting the worst behavior. These cyclists were not guiltless by any stretch, but they didn't deserve to be physically harmed either.

Both sides must change their attitudes for the city to be a safe place to bicycle, and with fuel going the way it has, there are only going to be more bicycles in the future. My hope is that the change happens before contentiousness from both sides leads to death.

The road is for CARS, not bikes. These idiots think they can slow down our roads just because they wear tights that say USPS on it. And why wouldn't you want this man as your doctor? He could be the best doctor in the world and because he proved a good point you people say you wouldn't want him as your doctor? Real smart... You'd rather go to an inferior doctor than go to a better doctor because he made a point to some bikers. Well I'm smart and I would want to go to the best doctor possible regardless of their personal life. Would you price shop or dig into a doctor's personal life for brain surgery? They why would you not want to visit this doctor for a personal issue.?!

There is something odd about the first two comments, very strange how overtly defensive they are and supportive of the perp. I think they may have been placed prehaps under the suggestion of his legal team.

As a regular bike rider of Mandeville Canyon Road, I would like to express my appreciation to those residence of the area that are kind and calm enough to wait for a safe moment to pass as my friends and I ride through their neighborhood. 99% of residents pass safely and continue on their way with nary a worry of being delayed for 0 to 30 seconds because they were momentarily stuck behind a biker. I have never met a biker that felt that they had "a lesson to teach drivers" as a previous commenter alluded. Every biker knows that there is no way that a biker will ever win in a matchup with a car. Mandeville Canyon is a draw for bikers precisely because there is little road traffic which means, ideally, fewer close calls with aggressive drivers. If he is guilty, Christopher Thompson deserves the harshest punishment under the law because there are two recorded incidents where he has allegedly exhibited road rage toward bikers.

In order for one of the cyclist to go through the rear window of the doctor's car, wouldn't the cyclist have to be traveling at a very high speed? Speed limits apply to all - cyclists, cars, motorcycles, etc.

Can an inference be made that the cyclist was traveling at a too high of a speed that to be considered safe for this small road? Imagine if it was not a cyclist but a person on a motorbike. Would that make a difference? What if was driving a car that rear-end the doctor's car?

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