Cutting through the confusion — LAPD clarifies why driver wasn’t cited in last week’s right hook wreck

September 5, 2013

Call it a case of miscommunication.

Last week’s failure to ticket the driver who right hooked Melanie Freeland as she biked to work — despite being witnessed by two police officers — quickly went from bad to worse.

As Freeland questioned why the driver wasn’t ticketed for failing to signal and yield the right-of-way as required by law, it quickly devolved into a desk officer arguing with her and refusing to put through her call to the bike liaison for the Central Traffic Division.

And led to an explanation from the Watch Commander on duty at the time of the collision that made it appear that most police officers are prohibited from writing traffic tickets, even if they witness the incident.

Or maybe not.

That bike liaison in question, LAPD Central Traffic Division’s Sgt. Laszlo Sandor, went to great lengths to clarify matters at last night’s regularly scheduled bike liaison meeting, which evolved from the department’s long-standing bike task force.

First off, the officers who witnessed the collision could have written a ticket on the spot. The reason they didn’t wasn’t that they didn’t have specific training in traffic law, as Freeland had understood from the Watch Commander’s explanation. It was that they were due in court, and had to hand the case off to someone else to avoid the wrath of an angry judge.

Or worse, having their case dismissed.

Secondly, Freeland reported that the Watch Commander had described a Catch 22 that would seem to prevent most patrol officers from writing a ticket in virtually any situation.

She stated that in order for a traffic citation to be issued two criteria must be met. An LAPD officer must witness the incident and be trained in traffic laws (taken the special course in traffic). Because the [traffic officer] didn’t witness the incident it did not meet the two criteria. Secondly, the officer who did witness the incident is not trained in traffic laws, so again it does not meet the criteria.

In other words, as she understood it, in order to issue a ticket at the scene, an officer must 1) actually witness the infraction, and 2) have specialized training in traffic investigations.

Which counts out the overwhelming majority of officers on the street.

Well, almost.

As Sgt. Sandor explained, there are two ways a driver — or a bike rider or pedestrian, for that matter — can be held accountable for an infraction.

The first is the one we’re all familiar with.

Someone commits an infraction, like running a red light, for instance. An officer sees it, fires up the lights and sirens, and tickets the violator on the spot.

Or in this case, can write a ticket after actually witnessing a collision. Which these officers could have done, but didn’t, for the reason explained above.

The second way is what the Watch Commander evidently tried, and failed, to explain. A driver can be ticketed after the fact if the investigating officer can conclusively determine what actually happened based on witness statements and the evidence at the scene.

But in order to do that, the officer must have specialized training in traffic investigations.

So any officer can write a ticket for any infraction they witness. Or an officer with specialized traffic investigation training can write a ticket or make an arrest after the fact, based on the totality of evidence.

In addition, there are two ways a driver can be held accountable for an infraction.

Again, he or she can be ticketed or arrested, depending on the severity of the infraction. Or the investigating officer can find the driver at fault in the traffic report, in which case the driver won’t face a fine or jail time, but will be charged points against his or her license by the DMV.

That appears to be what happened in Freeland’s case.

So justice was, apparently, won, despite a full week’s worth of aggravation and confusion.

The officers at the meeting suggested that, in some ways, it’s better to have the driver found at fault and have points charged by the DMV, since, unlike a ticket, it can’t be fought in court or dismissed if the officer is unable to attend the hearing.

Although if the driver is convicted, he will still have points charged against his or her license, as well as face additional penalties from the court.

As for the argument with the desk officer, Sgt. Sandor suggested that the officer was actually trying to help, since he — Sandor — was out of the office for several days.

But in the end, we all agreed that it would have been better to simply send the call to his voice mail, rather than appear to screen the bike liaison’s calls.

On the other hand, all of the department’s bike liaisons at the meeting agreed that email was the best way to contact them, rather than calling. Email leaves a written record of the conversation that they can refer to later. And they receive emails on work computers as well as on their personal devices, regardless of whether they are in the office.

And one more thing.

This morning I received an email from Melanie Freeland, who reported that she was back on her bike and once again riding to work, exactly one week after she was hit by the car.

Now that’s good news.

………

Thanks to Sgt. Sandor for looking into the matter and clarifying a very confusing situation. And thanks to the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Colin Bogart, who worked with the LAPD and city officials to assist Freeland in this case.

The LACBC doesn’t often trumpet its victories or the work it does to help individual bike riders — perhaps to its detriment.

But as in the case above, I’ve often witnessed their staff members fighting behind the scenes for the rights of bike riders, whether collectively or on an individual basis. And whether or not they’re members of the coalition.

It’s an organization I’m proud to support and be a part of.

Meanwhile, writing on LA Streetsblog, an LA attorney offers advice on what to do if the police fail to adequately respond to a collision.


A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

August 20, 2013

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.

………

She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.

………

LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.

………

Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.

………

The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.

………

Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.

………

LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.

………

Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.


Breaking news — Christine Dahab sentenced to one year in county jail for Culver City 13 collision

July 26, 2013

LA bike lawyer Daniel Jimenez, known in the bicycling community as Dj Wheels, reports that Christine Dahab will spend the next year behind bars.

As noted yesterday, Dahab was sentence today at the Airport Courthouse for her role in the Culver City 13 collision, in which 13 riders were injured, some critically; initial reports said 11 riders had been injured.

Dahab was intoxicated and allegedly driving distracted when she plowed into the group of riders taking a break on the side of Jefferson Place, on the border between LA and Culver City. She entered a guilty plea in April, and was ordered to complete a 90-day evaluation period in state prison.

According to Jimenez, after victim impact statements were read today, she was sentenced to an additional 16 months in state prison; however, that was suspended in lieu of 365 days in county jail. She will likely receive credit for the 90 days already served.

The reduced sentence was most likely imposed as a result of California’s current prison overcrowding; the state is sending many prisoners to local jails to comply with a court order to reduce the prison population.


Christine Dahab sentencing Friday, LA City Council takes up hit-and-run reform, Gardena police sued

July 26, 2013

Just a couple quick notes to wrap up a busy and exhausting day.

First up, a comment from Renee Andreassen sends word that Christine Dahab, the allegedly drunk and distracted driver who plowed into 13 bicyclists on a late night ride in Culver City in 2011, will be sentenced on Friday.

Christine Dahab, who hit 13 bicyclists June 2011 will be sentenced Friday July 26, 2013 at 
West District
Airport Courthouse,
 11701 South La Cienega Blvd.
 Los Angeles, CA 90045
 Dept D

I hope all of the victims will come to give their victim impact statements. 
I would appreciate any assistance this website can get out to those impacted by this horrible event

Dahab pleaded no contest to all charges last April, apparently including DUI causing injury and DWI with a BAC over .08 causing injury.

She was sentenced to a 90-day evaluation period in state prison pending final sentencing. So she’s already spent more time behind bars than most drivers do even in fatal collisions. And could face a lot more.

I have other obligations Friday, so if anyone attends the sentencing, please let us know how it turns out.

………

Hit-and-run rears its ugly head once again in L.A. But this time, they may actually do something about it.

From the blog of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition:

The Public Safety Committee will hear the LAPD report on Friday, July 26th at 8:30 AM in City Hall Room 1010.  Please join LACBC in requesting that the City take a leadership role to fix state law to increase penalties for hit-and-run.  You can also write the committee members at councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, and councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org.

No matter how you parse the numbers — and the LAPD has been roundly criticized for attempting to put the best face on a dismal record — the city ranks at or near the top among major cities for cowardly drivers refusing to take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Fortunately, the department appears to be taking the problem seriously. And they seem to have been listening to me, with recommendations including:

  • Automatic license consequences — hopefully including revocation
  • Possible hold or forfeiture of the vehicle used in the crime
  • More significant consequences, including tougher penalty enhancements
  • Limit civil compromises
  • Extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-runs that result in death or serious injury

………

Not surprisingly, Gardena police are being sued for civil rights violations and excessive force in the shooting death of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, who was killed by police while trying to help recover his brother’s stolen bicycle.

Diaz-Zeferino reportedly ran up to police as they held guns on two of his friends, shouting in English that they weren’t the thieves, but were trying to help find the bike.

And that’s when they shot him eight times, including twice in the back. As well as hitting one of his friends, resulting in permanent injuries.

Not that they overreacted or anything.

………

Finally, the arraignment for Gonzalo Aranguiz Salazar, the driver accused in the death of Cal Poly Pomona bike rider Ivan Aguilar, has been postponed until September.

Salazar faces a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The relatively light charge may reflect the fact that was reportedly Aguilar riding against traffic, as many students do in that location, due to a lack of safe bicycling infrastructure.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway to make much-needed bike and pedestrian safety improvements on campus.

Hopefully before someone else gets killed.


Killer SF cyclist Chris Bucchere gets slap on wrist — should we be angry?

July 23, 2013

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I can get almost apoplectic when a killer driver walks with a relative slap on the wrist.

So how should we respond when it’s a bike rider who gets the benefit of the court’s low valuation of a human life?

San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere faced a felony manslaughter charge for running into 71-year old pedestrian Sutchi Hui in a crosswalk while — allegedly — trying to beat his Strava time. Witnesses and security camera footage were unclear on whether he ran the red light, or entered on the yellow as Bucchere claimed.

Bucchere posted online shortly after the incident, defending his actions by saying the crosswalk filled before he could clear the intersection, and, unable to find a clear line, laid down his bike at the least populated area. At least some witnesses said he simply plowed through the crowded crosswalk, killing Hui.

Other witnesses reported that he had been riding recklessly prior to the collision, running at least three red lights prior to arriving at the deadly intersection.

Now the SF Gate reports that he’s accepted a plea deal that will avoid jail time, agreeing to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Don’t get me wrong.

One thousand hours is a long time, and it gives him an opportunity to benefit society while serving as a warning to other riders.

But if a killer driver got off with just community service, we would be livid. At least, I would be.

Should we be any less so when the killer is one of us?

My first reaction was relief that Bucchere had been held accountable without suffering the heavy handed sentence that had been threatened. After all, he’s one of us, and it’s easy to imagine ourselves in that position.

Or not, on second though.

I never run red lights. As in, never.

I always ride within my capabilities; as thrilling as it can be to push beyond your limits, I’ve learned the hard way that the risks far outweigh the benefits.

And I never, ever ride recklessly around pedestrians. They have the right-of-way when crossing the street. And even when in the wrong, they are the only people on the roadway more vulnerable than we are.

They need, and deserve, our respect and consideration as much as we need that of the motorists we’re forced to share the road with.

So I find myself conflicted.

I’m angry that yet another killer has been let off the hook with a sentence that once again devalues the life of his victim and the consequences of his actions.

And relieved that one of us wasn’t held to a stricter accountability than similarly reckless drivers.

It’s just another slap on the wrist. And a sentence that is only fair in the uniformity of its unfairness.

Thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.


OC bike cop run down by driver, Gardena starting to get it, and banning Banning from illegal bike laws

July 18, 2013

Evidently, not even bike cops are safe from road raging and/or otherwise wacked out drivers.

According to multiple sources, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling on his bike at John Wayne Airport when he went to investigate a collision in the parking garage, and wound up on the bumper of a car driven by 48-year old Rebecca McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had reportedly driven her Toyota Sequoia through a locked parking gate. The wrong way, no less.

She then backed up, aimed her car at the unnamed officer and accelerated, knocking him onto the hood of her Toyota Sequoia and running over his bike. He then wrestled her out of the car after she crashed into a ticket machine, and placed her under arrest.

And no, wrestling the driver out of the car that hit you is not recommended for any riders not in uniform, no matter how tempting it may be.

The officer suffered minor injuries, while his attacker was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, as well as an outstanding warrant.

She’s being held on over a half-million dollars bail.

Evidently, the courts take an assault on a bike riding police officer a lot more seriously than they do the rest of us.

………

Gardena police promise better enforcement of traffic laws, but fall short of an apology for illegally ticketing a group of minority riders.

Or shooting one, for that matter.

………

Looks like Banning has an illegal law on the books prohibiting bike riders from interfering with motor vehicles or pedestrians in any way.

It shall be a violation of law subject to punishment as set forth herein for any person operating a bicycle to obstruct, hinder, impede or restrict the lawful course of travel of any motor vehicle or the lawful use by any pedestrian of public streets, sidewalks, alleys, parking areas, pathways, or trails in any manner whatsoever. When operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or other area routinely traveled by pedestrians, such operator shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.

Someone should tell them it’s in violation of several state laws, starting with CVC 21200, and including the one that give the state — not local jurisdictions — full authority over traffic regulations.

 Thanks to Chris Kidd for the link.

………

Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Massacre. I remember listening to the horrific, near-constant parade of ambulances, even though I lived over six miles away off Santa Monica Blvd, as the wounded and dead overwhelmed closer hospitals.

………

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes on the Los Angeles News Group’s biased Summer of Cycling series. Even having your mother along is no guarantee police won’t pull a Taser on you during a protest ride. No bikes involved, just a driver sentenced to over five years for the allegedly intentional crash that cost two strip club patrons three legs. Actor Seth Rogan sports a sling here in LA after breaking his arm falling off a bike. The Weekly reviews Pedalers Fork in Calabasas, and kind of likes it, I think. A Newhall man has been charged with felony hit-and-run causing injury after turning himself in four hours after leaving a bike rider in the road with a broken back; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

It nearly happened again, as a bike rider encounters a car on the same off-road bike path where San Diego cyclist Nick Venuto was killed two years ago. A deadly stretch of road in Ramona will be widened, straightened and have bike lanes added; evidently to cut crashes while encouraging speeding. Cambrian bike riders sample eight possible fixes for the Highway 1 road surface Caltrans ruined. A Bay Area bike rider survives traveling by BART. A Petaluma bike thief is found hiding face-up in a river next to the submerged hot bike. A Santa Rosa writer asks where bike riders learn the rules of the road, not comprehending that most cyclists passed the same drivers test she did; that’s not to say better education isn’t needed for both drivers and bicyclists, but get real, already.

Not surprisingly, wealthier motorists are more likely to drive like jerks; certainly matches my experience. The Bike League is looking for a manager for their Equity Initiative. Apple is finally giving you back your Google Maps, including turn-by-turn bike directions. Now your bike can convert to a stroller once you get to your destination. People with far too much money on their hands can spend $400 for a Burley dog trailer. Not surprisingly, bike friendly businesses are doing good business. The Department of DIY wins one for a change, as Seattle decides to make a guerrilla bike lane permanent. A bike-riding writer in my hometown says cyclists who break the law deserve to be ticketed. The cross-country bike rider injured in the Colorado Dark Knight shootings intends to pick up where he left off before being shot. Bicycling is growing in popularity, even in Amarillo. Horrifying video of a crash with a cyclist captured from inside a bus. A Chicago suburb says no to fining parents whose kids don’t wear bike helmets. Is it just me, or does it strain credibility just a tad that a bike rider would run a stop sign in front of the oncoming dump truck that killed him? A South Carolina man is charged with hit-and-run in the death of a cyclist — evidently, without ever making contact with the bike or rider.

The Brit twit who tweeted about running down a bike rider faces charges including failure to report an accident; what, tweeting about it wasn’t enough? The head of British transportation charity Sustrans says slow down, you move too fast. Kill a cyclist while driving a cab, and get a whopping £35 — or $53 — fine. Before you can stop for red lights, you’ve got to have a red light to stop for. Tour de France leader Chris Froome is understandably upset over questions about doping; then again, given the race’s recent history, those questions seem inevitable. The director of the Tour de France brushes off demands for a women’s Tour. An Israeli entrepreneur want to help you electrify your own bike. An elderly Chinese man is charged as a reckless pedestrian in the death of an e-bike rider.

Finally, a Spanish cyclist is wrestled to the ground by a group of women parishioners after riding his bike into a local church waving a gun; not too surprising considering the church is named Los Angeles. And the 11th annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic will be held today.

No, not that Beverly Hills.


Now it makes sense — daughter of LAPD Sgt. charged for covering up Jesse Dotson hit-and-run death

July 4, 2013

Last night I wrote this:

Finally, news broke today that 60-year old Gardena resident Jesse Dotson died last Friday of the injuries he suffered in yet another hit-and-run on Wednesday, the 26th.

Dotson was riding to work around 9:50 pm on the 1000 block of El Segundo Blvd when he was hit and left bleeding in the street with severe head injuries as the driver fled the scene.

Despite initial reports that they were looking for a Hispanic man in his 40s or 50s, Gardena police have arrested 22-year old Vanessa Marie Yanez for Dotson’s death. She faces charges of suspicion of manslaughter, perjury, filing a false police report and felony hit-and-run.

In other words, they threw the book at her, instead of the relative slap on the wrist most killer drivers face.

She must have done something to really piss someone off.

My sincere prayers and sympathy for Jesse Dotson and all his loved ones.

Now LAist offers an explanation for just who the driver is, and just why the charges are so steep.

Vanessa Yanez, 22—the daughter of LAPD Sgt. Arturo Yanez—later filed a report with Huntington Park police claiming her car had been stolen. After seeing the hit-and-run news story, a Huntington Park police officer tipped off Gardena police. Authorities found Yanez’s vehicle at her home in Gardena, where she lives with her family—including her father. The front windshield of the car was shattered. The home is located less than a mile from the scene of the crime.

Video from KABC shows her father aggressively confronting their news crew outside the Gardena police station following his daughter’s arraignment.

According to KABC,

Dotson’s family say they’re grateful his alleged killer has been caught, but wonder how much the suspect’s father may have known. And so do Gardena detectives, who are now investigating the LAPD sergeant’s potential knowledge of the deadly accident. His own department is also now investigating.

Gardena detectives said the sergeant could face charges if it turns out he had any information about the accident. His daughter faces a long list of charges, including vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run, perjury and filing a false police report. She’s expected to be in court on Monday.

If the investigation shows any hint of involvement by the father — such as hiding the car or recommending that she report it stolen — he can and should face criminal charges.

And his shameful aggressive confrontation with a news team legally doing their job should be enough to get him an immediate suspension.

Meanwhile, both stories provide more information about Dotson, who was on his way to his job with the Postal Service when he was run down and left to die in the street next to his broken bike.

Like Arturo Yanez, Dotson was a father, as well as a grandfather. Unlike Dotson, though, Yanez can still come home to his family.

Dotson never will.

Update: According to KNBC-4, Vanessa Yanez admitted drinking before the collision that killed Jesse Dotson.

As you may be aware, drunk driving is one of the leading motivators for hit-and-run, since the penalty for fleeing the scene pales in comparison to that of DUI. In many cases, it can actually be to the driver’s benefit to flee the scene, then turn themselves in after they’ve had a chance to sober up.


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