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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)

The doctor was definitely wrong. However, far too often I come across bicyclists who are unaware that while they do have a right to the road. That right, is the far right side of the road as stated by law.

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

Learn the law and stay out of the middle of the road
Stop signs and stop lights not only apply to motorized vehicles but to bicyclists as well. While it is not against the law to be arrogant or snobby, bicyclists and motorists are entitled to their opinion. They are not entitled to their own interpretation of the law.

LOL to Boe "The rules for cyclists is they must obey all traffic lights and rules of the road as motor vehicles - the cyclists were at fault - he should sue them for damage to his vehicle."

That reminds me of that married with children episode where Al got sued for beating up a guy that broke in to his home. So Al sued the guy for hurting his hand on the guys face.

I'm a little saddened that the cyclists weren't killed. They are a blight on humanity and deserve to be exterminated like the pests they are.

Simple lesson to be learned here for bicyclists: stay off of busy residential roads if you value your health.

If someone on a bicycle has a right to use the road, then they should have to obey all the same laws that motorists have to. Which includes maintaining a safe following distance, in my opinion the bikers are at fault for not maintaining a safe following distance, your following distance should be as much that gives you ample time to stop if the vehicle in front of you were to suddenly stop. Had it have been another car, the one who did the rear ending would have been 100% at fault. Now I read in the comments that some of these bikes don't have brakes? In my opinion if they want to make use of the road, there should be annual safety inspections for the bikes, as well as yearly registration fees paid to the state to help maintain the roads that they ride on. Like everyone who owns a car must.

Of course his money will buy him out of this one. As so many have said we all have the right to the road and just because you perceive that someone is doing something to annoy you does not give you the right to break the law and try to kill them as unfortunately could have been the case. There are people in prison for attempted murder for something like this. Think about it he rams his car (deadly weapon) willingly at another human being with intent to commit bodily injury(penal code 245 using a deadly weapon to cause great bodily injury) Which increases his time in prison to life as per our laws. Please keep us all posted to see if our laws are working equally.

I question anyone like James Sullivan | January 15, 2009 at 11:02 AM who sympathizes with the "good" doctor in the belief that slamming his brakes in front of the two cyclists and causing injury is justified. It's ok to express your discontent that these cycist were sharing the road, but to condone this level of violence is distrubing in this society. I wonder what else you can justify. Just hope someone doesn't justify inappropriate violence towards your perceieved slights.

What aren't you people getting about the event in question? The cyclists were not following this guy. He passed them on the left, and then stopped suddenly once in front of them. I'm sure he was intending to frighten them, but instead nearly killed them. That is a crime. The cyclists bear no blame for this incident. Road rage, under any circumstances, is not excusable. Especially when it results in serious injury or damage. There is nothing in the law which protects drivers of automobiles who willfully use their vehicles as weapons, and it is unlikely that there ever will be. Those who side with the driver in the incident are disgusting people, plain and simple. Their callous disregard for the safety of harmless cyclists is shockingly inhumane.

I'm impressed that Dr. O'Malley (above) can say:

"we slow traffic on residential streets to the benefit of residents (cars speeding up madeville is a problem)."

then say:

"the driver as entitled moral enforcer is disturbing"

without spotting the contradiction.

The rules of the road do not favor one mode of transportation over the other. I am annoyed at giant SUVs, personalized license plates, and spiny rims, but it is WRONG to purposefully attempt to HARM anyone who has these things simply because I deem them an annoyance. It doesn't help that Los Angeles boasts the most selfish and aggressive drivers that I have every experienced.

A bike is a simple machine and those calling for safety inspections obviously haven't been on one since childhood. Brakeless bikes have single-gear coaster brakes--intuitive and easy to use. However, you can't slam on your breaks on a bike or you'll fly off.

As for bikers paying registration fees just like cars, one needs only to look at pot holes to assess the relative damage bikes do onto the road.

Non-biker, 45 mile daily commuter here.

Have three uncles who are HARD core cyclists (one does those rediculous iron man things...looney that he is).

My 2 cents:
Some cyclists could be better behaved.
Most motorists could be better behaved.

To those supporting this doctor, let me just see if I have this straight: this doctor has, by his own admission, described himself as a danger to himself and other users of the common road way. So, we now all have the right to throw him through a window at 50+ mph, right? I mean, that's what you are saying...

Count me as one more cyclist expressing total disdain for the doctor's actions and the anti-cycling comments here. The next time one of you bike-haters are stuck in traffic and your blood pressure starts to rise because your competitive, heartless soul can't handle the fact that a person on a bike is able to move more quickly and efficiently, take a deep breath and ask yourself just how much worse your traffic jam would be if everyone out there on a bike was in a car, in front of you. You might not want to believe it but your life will be easier, not harder, with more cyclists out there. Support your local cycling organizations, share the road, and show some respect for others. These things are so self-evident it's sad they need to be said.

Interesting story and responses. Seems to reflect emotions rather than rational thought.

Just one question. If one looks in their rear-view mirror and sees a car speeding up behind them (above the posted speed limit), should one slam on their breaks causing the speeding driver to ram into the back of one's car? The person is obviously breaking the law and being annoying. Slamming on the breaks would certainly teach that driver a lesson about speeding and approaching a vehicle in a manner too fast to react to a sudden stop. I see this situation all the time, but haven't really heard of many examples where the driver slams on their breaks to teach the speeding driver a lesson. Seems like a similar situation only inserting a car instead of a bike.

Any thoughts?

The BM'er is a danger to the community. He needs to spend time in jail to reevaluate his capricious actions and get some anger management training and
get sued seriously. Then possibly he will understand deep down that attacking people with his BM'er is not appropriate behavior for anyone civil to engage in.
He has already stated his guilt to the cops the civil suit should be a piece of cake.

Did anyone read all of this? Cyclists weren't behaving properly? They were riding two wide which is legal. Dr. Doom came up behind them and honked. One passed the other to create a single file so Dr. Kevorkian could pass and precede to try and kill them for holding him up for a second.

Well those are all the Dr jokes I go

As a Canadian citizen, we have a law that basically states that no matter what the reason, if a vehicle hits the vehicle in front (while traveling normally, obviously if the front driver was cutting in it's a different situation) the guilt lies with the rear vehicle since it's the responsibility of the rear vehicle to keep a safe following distance; enough time to brake if the vehicle in front needs to come to an emergency stop.

This doctor is an idiot, I would have just said i saw a squirrel and didn't want to kill it.

"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?

Posted by: Andy | January 15, 2009 at 01:31 PM"

Who knows how much room the Dr. left as he cut off the bikers? It could have been inches. When I get passed by a car when I'm driving or biking, they usually don't do so to brake check me. Also, car glass can be broken by dropping ceramic dust on it by as little as a couple inches away. Also, you can press outward on the glass with arm strength to break the glass in the event of an emergency. Bicycles can also endo at as little as 5 mph.

I would say the Dr. Thompson certainly taught those cyclists a lesson. Now, a series of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges in criminal and civil court are going to teach him a lesson. He will almost certainly lose most of everything he has, including the time he has left on earth. At the age of 59, he could easily spend the rest of his life in Maximum security keeping some very, very bad people company.

Good. He deserves it.

I'm a cyclist, and frankly some of these comments are a bit disturbing. For one, cyclists don't have 2 ton metal cages to protect themselves. Cars often shout profanities at me while I cycle and will find it "funny" to make right turns in my path. I don't think the cyclists deserved to be hit and your comments saying you sympathize with the doctor are morbid and one reason why cyclists need to be armed while riding. Some people are just crazy or too fat to realize that cycling is beneficial for a community cognizant of their own health.

Enjoy your gas while it lasts. And remember, cyclists are considered a vehicle and therefore enjoy the same rights as one.

Judging by the attitudes of several posters, small wonder bicyclists continue to be killed by cars at an alarming rate. Regardless of whether or not the riders instigated this incident, there is no excuse for the doctor intentionally slamming on his brakes. Cars can stop much quicker than a bike can and most serious riders wear shoes that lock into the pedal (you have to twist your foot to unlock) so not only do they have to respond to what the doctor did and start to brake, but also twist out of their pedals so when they stop they don't fall over.

I do my riding at a local park with miles of paved paths. However, I have to ride on city streets one half mile each way to and from the park. Even though the road has a center median and 3 lanes each way and I stay as far right as possible, I have still had drivers cut in front of me and turn right, with me nearly hitting the side of their car. Other people seem to like to play "lets see how close we can get to the cyclist withuut touching him". Bonus points for honking the horn and making him hit the curb.

If the doctor had been irritated by an older driver going under the speed limit, would it have been okay for him to swing around that driver and then slam on his brakes?

These bicyclists didn't deserve this, but I've seen cyclists in Brentwood actually leave the bike lane EMPTY and ride NEXT TO IT IN TRAFFIC. Yep, intentionally blocking traffic after they've been allocated their own section of taxpayer-owned road.

Nobody is allowed to impede traffic on a public thoroughfare, so saying that bikes "have the same rights as cars" doesn't prove anything. They seldom maintain sufficient speed not to impede motorized traffic, and thus they need to ride single-file as far over to the side as practical. No reasonable driver is going to take issue with cyclists who are obviously doing their part to coexist.

Nobody has to be impeded if cyclists just use common sense and stop looking for trouble. And plenty of them do.

There are two points to consider in this case. First of all there is how the cyclists were riding. The second is the good Doctor's reaction. Whether or not the cyclists were riding by the traffic laws does not justify the Dr.'s actions. Plain and simple. You may not like the fact that the road is shared with cyclists and they may make you late for the carpool line, but that does not give you the right to cause bodily harm to them. I am saddened that anyone would even think that his actions were appropriate. If you'd of left the house earlier wouldn't of had to be in a hurry in the first place.

To those of you who think that the doctor was justified:

When the guy in the office next to me talks too loudly, can I hit him in the face with a baseball bat? Doesn't he have it coming?

To those of you who think it was an accident:

The doctor has a pattern of bad behavior. This is not the first time he's used his car against cyclists. And this time, he told the cop that he did it on purpose.

His behavior is inexcusable. Your defense of him is baseless at best.

It amazes me how many people don't read the article or the related links. This isn't a question of the bikers following too closely. The Dr. allegedly cut them off and hit his brakes. People who post about the cyclists breaking the following distance rule are merely showing that they can't finish an article, or that they are being deliberately obtuse. Either way it makes them look stupid.

It amazes me how many people don't read the article or the related links. This isn't a question of the bikers following too closely. The Dr. allegedly cut them off and hit his brakes. People who post about the cyclists breaking the following distance rule are merely showing that they can't finish an article, or that they are being deliberately obtuse. Either way it makes them look stupid.

Unbelievable. Simply put, all bikers have the same privilege of using the road as any driver. They have to obey all signs and laws that auto drivers do. Stop at stop signs, use hand signals, etc. If they don't they can get a ticket just like any other motorist. To pass cyclists that are screaming down a windy hilly road sounds like the Dr. was speeding even faster down a windy hilly road. Reckless driving? Who's really at fault here? Let's see, guys on a sub 20 pounds bike vs. a 2000 pound piece or steel. Sounds really fair. They were exercising their rights as motorists on a public road. If in fact there are signs stating no cyclists, then cyclists should not be there. It does not excuse a Dr., who took a Hippocratic oath, from his actions. Simple case of road rage, Dr. at fault. Should be found guilty of: 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. Hey doc, Do the crime, do the time!

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