Police skeptical that cyclist was injured in road rage incident
Los Angeles police said Thursday that "the facts do not tend to support" reports from the bicycling community that a cyclist was the victim of a downtown road rage attack.
The case has ignited anger among cyclists who took to the blogosphere early this week after they say Susanna Schick, 42, of Los Angeles was chased down and struck Friday night by a driver in a white Lexus.
Jennifer Beatty, a cyclist and friend of Schick’s, said Schick suffered a broken collarbone, six broken ribs and three breaks in her pelvis. When news about the incident began circulating Monday, it was unclear if a police report had been filed and the details of the accident were vague.
But on Thursday, LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon recounted the incident to The Times based on Schick’s statements and other parts of the department’s investigation. He said the case remains open as an aggravated assault.
Vernon said Schick was riding south in the 200 block of South Spring Street when a Lexus swung out of a garage and into the green bike lane from Schick's left. He said Schick became "infuriated" and insulted the driver, slapping the car’s side-view mirror after the driver had rolled up the car windows.
Video recorded by Los Angeles Times security cameras shortly before midnight on Friday appears to capture a portion of the incident.
The car then followed the biker down Spring Street, but the driver was "not doing anything provocative," according to Vernon. Schick ran a red light on 4th Street before the car and biker stopped next to each other at the 5th Street intersection, Vernon said.
At that point, two on-duty police officers in a police car pulled up behind the Lexus, and saw the car turn right while the cyclist continued straight.
"The Lexus never hits her, never touches her, by the officers' account," Vernon said. "But one of the officers notices that the front tire starts wobbling, and she falls over after going through the intersection."
LAPD Sgt. David Krumer, who often acts as a police liaison to the cycling community, said the incident was initially assigned as an injury report, and only later after the allegations surfaced did the department launch an assault investigation.
"It wasn't a big deal," Krumer said.
"Nothing happened," Vernon added. "A woman fell."
Beatty, 28, of Burbank, was careful not to accuse authorities of lying, but said cyclists have been "disappointed" with the police investigation, which she called "fishy."
She questioned whether a bike tire can "wobble on its own" and said police were painting her friend as an "incompetent cyclist" despite her years of experience.
"At some point, some kind of contact happened," Beatty said. "There’s just no way else to explain it. I’m disappointed that they’re focused on blaming the victim."
Beatty said Schick has been removed from the intensive care unit but will probably require physical therapy.
-- Matt Stevens