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Physician convicted in cycling case

A physician accused of deliberately injuring two cyclists by slamming on his car’s brakes on a narrow Brentwood road last year was convicted Monday of assault with a deadly weapon, mayhem and other serious criminal charges.

The three-week trial of Dr. Christopher Thompson drew close attention from cyclists, many of whom viewed the case as a test of the justice system’s commitment to protecting cyclists.

Thompson, wearing a dark blue suit, bowed his head as the verdicts were read. He faces a possible prison term.

Prosecutors alleged that on July 4, 2008, Thompson stopped his car after passing the two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single-file. One cyclist ran face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s red Infiniti, breaking his front teeth and nose, and leaving his face scarred. The other was sent hurtling to the sidewalk and suffered a separated shoulder.

A police officer testified that Thompson told him soon after the accident that the cyclists had cursed at him and flipped him off, so he slammed on his brakes “to teach them a lesson.”

Thompson, a veteran emergency room physician, testified that he had never meant to hurt any of the cyclists. He said he and other residents were upset at unsafe cycling by some riders along Mandeville Canyon Road, a winding, five-mile residential street that has become an increasingly popular route for cyclists. But they had struggled to identify problem riders.

Thompson told jurors that he stopped his car so that he could take a photo of the cyclists he had overtaken and believed he had left enough room for them.

Prosecutors alleged Thompson had a history of run-ins with bikers, including a similar episode four months before the 2008 collision, when two cyclists told police that the doctor tried to run them off the road and braked hard in front of them. Neither of the riders was injured.

-- Jack Leonard

 
Comments () | Archives (143)

No sympathy. This is a guy who could have, very nearly, killed someones Father, Son, Husband or Brother because they did not use a public roadway in a manor to his personal liking. What a creep. I hope he spends several years in jail.

After his prison sentence is finished, his CDL should be revoked & his probationary period should be spent as a bike commuter so he can feel EXACTLY how it is to be terrorized by moronic motorists at every intersection.
I guarantee he'd have a whole new respect for those he attempted to "teach a lesson."

Next time just run them over from the front and it will be an "accident." That'll learn em.

I'm a 60 year avid cyclist. I see both sides of the argument. However, it appears that the might-makes-right crowd (2,000 lb car Vs. 20 lb bike) are sometimes flexing their collective muscle.

All I can say to the car crowd (of which I often am one), ride my 10 mile commute to work and see how difficult it is to manuever hazards in the road and just plain jerks in cars.

I'm a 60 year avid cyclist. I see both sides of the argument. However, it appears that the might-makes-right crowd (2,000 lb car Vs. 20 lb bike) are sometimes flexing their collective muscle.

All I can say to the car crowd (of which I often am one), ride my 10 mile commute to work and see how difficult it is to manuever hazards in the road and just plain jerks in cars.

The jury reached the correct verdict. Rude behaviour on the part of the cyclists (if in fact they did refuse to ride single file) does not give anyone license to harm them. The doctor is lucky he did not kill or cripple the cyclists. Like it or not, this was mayhem and ADW. It would be nice to say the doctor should not have to go to prison and instead should be forced to provide free medical services for 10,000 hours or something, make him use his erstwhile gifts to give back to the community - maybe even treating cycling injuries, but I fear for any doctor who has such a dim view of other humans that he/she would willfully and wantonly attempt to maim or kill them. Perhaps it is better that he never practice medicine again.

All that aside, LA should make every effort to make the roads safer for cyclists. I don't mind that cyclists blow through stop signs and red lights when they are in packs, because they are FORCED to ride in packs for safety. Just deal with it, LA. Sit in your car comfortably, listen to a song on the radio, chill out. Every time someone uses a bicycle they are making things better, with fewer cars on the road, less fuel being burned, and hopefully people out having a good time in an activity that is great for physical health.

Everyone should be able to enjoy LA on bikes, but as it is now, it is far too dangerous to ride except in big groups.

Well, it probably would not be a bad idea to put his talents to use in the prison system.

Cyclists are the biggest hypocrites and are a very narcissistic group. They demand cars share the road and then they ride side by side blocking the road - never in the bike lane weaving in & out of traffic, run red lights and stop signs, dont signal when turning and on and on. They turn quiet residential areas into a race track with no etiquette for residents. I'd have done the same thing. Practice what you preach; share the road and obey all laws - or eat some asphalt.

I'm a bike commuter, and admit to the occasional reckless behavior. But this has really pulled me up short. Cyclists have an obligation to obey the rules of the road; motorists have an obligation to treat us like another form of traffic.

But *nothing* justifies the kind of vigilante violence. Have a neighborhood meeting between residents and cycling associations, promote awareness, ask for enforcement of road rules -- but this doesn't have to be a war, people.

Some of you are acting as if this is a civil rights victory for cyclists. Come on, seriously? It doesn't justify cycling as the most divine of transportation, it punishes a guy who hurt some people. Simple as that.

Great to hear the guilty verdict. Whether drivers put cyclists or fellow motorists at risk of injury through senseless temper and disregard for other people's safety, they should be held accountable.

See no reason this Dr. shouldn't be put away. Attempted murder is the charge, in my opinion. Man driving a 3,000 pound weapon with road rage? Five years hard time, and we know he'll be out in 2 years or less. Nevertheless, this chap needs to be locked up until he comes to his senses!

Hurt a rider, go to jail. Think about that next time you're feeling macho in your two ton auto. We'll get a photo of your license plate and the police will visit you. Riders are reducing smog and traffic congestion.

cyclists have no respect for the road, i have a dent in my front passenger door because someone opened the door of a parked car and the cyclist next to me swerved and I did not get out of his way fast enough! the idiot had the nerve to curse me because he was not following the rules of the road. had i been on the jury i would have voted Not Guilty.living in Long Beach i witness daily the stupid choices cyclists make and the total disregard that they have for motorist

The Doctor got what he deserved but I have to ask, what if he or another driver really killed a cyclist by accident? Would it make that road a safer place for cyclists? Would it have sent a message to all car drivers to be more careful?
I think the cyclists are dumb for riding on this road, you know it is dangerous, what are you trying to prove?, ride elswhere, last I heard there are a few hundred million miles of safer roads to ride in the U.S.

What happened that day was an unfortunate accident involving a citizen with an outstanding record of service to the community who made the mistake of trying to do his own police work in identifying aggressive bicyclists who have been plaguing the neighborhood. An error in judgement does not constitute criminal intent.

Almost everyone in LA drives, including cyclists. What I don't understand is how people on bicycles will take up a whole lane knowing traffic is backing up behind them? Or, they are on a narrow non bike friendly street and choose to ride in the traffic lane at 13 mph, oblivious to car traffic behind them. What is that about?

What this "veteran emergency room doctor" did was criminal and intentional given his medical training and knowledge. But did he crack under pressure after experiencing this day in and day out? Was he known as a hot head? That could be a precarious situation to have such a doctor in an emergency room setting.

I also enjoy biking as well and have logged as much as 32 miles a day. I have taken my bike to and from work, but it is BECAUSE I drive and drive defensively, I do the same when I am bicycling. I just assume no one is watching or can see me and it has served me well on the road AND in the street.

On both sides, I wish more people would use common sense and just realize not everyone has YOUR best interests in mind on the road.

Almost everyone in LA drives, including cyclists. What I don't understand is how people on bicycles will take up a whole lane knowing traffic is backing up behind them? Or, they are on a narrow non bike friendly street and choose to ride in the traffic lane at 13 mph, oblivious to car traffic behind them. What is that about?

What this "veteran emergency room doctor" did was criminal and intentional given his medical training and knowledge. But did he crack under pressure after experiencing this day in and day out? Was he known as a hot head? That could be a precarious situation to have such a doctor in an emergency room setting.

I also enjoy biking as well and have logged as much as 32 miles a day. I have taken my bike to and from work, but it is BECAUSE I drive and drive defensively, I do the same when I am bicycling. I just assume no one is watching or can see me and it has served me well on the road AND in the street.

On both sides, I wish more people would use common sense and just realize not everyone has YOUR best interests in mind on the road.

Ron Peterson is a bicycle coach working privately and also with USC and UCLA teams. In his own testimony he admitted flipping of Dr. Thompson while riding two abreast with his student, Christian Stoer, shouting obscenities and physically threatening the doctor.
Is this the kind of bicycle safety and etiquette that is being taught by so-called professionals in the field?

"What happened that day was an unfortunate accident involving a citizen with an outstanding record of service to the community who made the mistake of trying to do his own police work in identifying aggressive bicyclists who have been plaguing the neighborhood. An error in judgement does not constitute criminal intent."

@Voice of Reason

That was the defense's argument throughout the whole trial. However, the jury did not buy it. I also doubt a jury in a civil case would buy it either. And believe me, there were no "aggressive bicyclists" on that jury, I was there for jury selection. The evidence was just stacked against Dr. Thompson. Case closed. Accept it and move on.

No excuse for hurting these cyclists.

Thankfully not everyone takes annoyance to road rage levels like this. This guy needs to do some time. Hopefully this will open the way for a civil trial where the riders can dig into his bank account as well. It takes YEARS to recover from injuries like these guys sustained. That's if they are lucky enough to fully recover.

The bicyclists are fine, back working and back riding. The injury to Ron Peterson's face is undetectable. The insurance company has already paid one of them and will be settling with the other. They don't need your sympathy. What they need is some manners.

I'll stop at stop signs when drivers;

- get off and stay off their cell phones
- obey the speed limits
- learning the CA Vehicle Code (CVC) won't be a bad idea either!

I'll stop at stop signs when drivers;

- get off and stay off their cell phones
- obey the speed limits
- learning the CA Vehicle Code (CVC) won't be a bad idea either!

This guy is borderline psychotic and needs both medical help and some serious jail time.

Thank God he didn't actually kill both cyclists... which was probably his intent.

 
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