Memorial for cyclist marred by SFPD harassment

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Shahum was still visibly disturbed by the behavior of Sgt. Ernst more than an hour later.
Steven T. Jones

A memorial and informational event this morning at the 6th and Folsom corner where a bicyclist was fatally run over by a truck last week was marred by a tense and unsettling confrontation with an SFPD sergeant who showed up to block the bike lane with his cruiser, lecture the cyclists, and blame the victim.

The event was organized by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to raise awareness of the incident and that dangerous intersection and to call for the city to make improvements. It included friends and co-workers of 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac, who was riding in the Folsom Street bike lane on the morning of Aug. 14 when an unidentified delivery truck driver turned right onto 6th Street, across her path, and ran her over.

SFPD Sgt. Dennis Toomer tells the Guardian that the department has completed the traffic incident report, information from which can only be shared with the parties involved, but that the investigation of the fatality is still ongoing and will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review once it's done.

But SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum said that SFPD Sgt. Richard Ernst, who showed up at the event a little before 9am, had already drawn his own conclusions about the crash and showed up to make his apparent disdain for “you people,” bicyclists, disturbingly clear.

Shahum said that she tried to be diplomatic with Ernst and asked him to please move his patrol car out of the bike lane and into an available parking space that was right next to it, saying that it presented an unnecessary hazard to bicyclists riding past.

But she said Ernst refused to do so for almost 10 minutes, telling the group that he has “a right” to leave his car than and that he was “making the point that bicyclists need to move around” cars parked in bike lanes, according to Shahum’s written account, which she prepared to file a report about the incident with the Office of Citizens Complaints.

“He then told me explicitly that he ‘would not leave until’ I ‘understood’ that ‘it was the bicyclist’s fault.’ This was shocking to hear, as I was told just a day ago by Commander [Mikail] Ali that the case was still under investigation and no cause had yet been determined,” Shahum wrote.

And apparently Ernst didn’t stop at denouncing Le Moullac for causing her own death, in front of people who are still mourning that death. Shahum said Ernst also blamed the other two bicyclist deaths in SF this year on the cyclists, and on “you people” in the SFBC for not teaching cyclists how to avoid cars.

“I told him the SF Bicycle Coalition does a significant amount of safety work educating people biking and driving about sharing the road, and that I’d be happy to share more information with him. I again urged him to move his car out of the bike lane. He again refused, saying it was his right and he wasn’t moving until I ‘understood,’” Shahum wrote.

Shahum said there were multiple witness to the incident, including three television reporters who were there to cover the event.

“In addition to the Sgt’s inappropriate and dangerous behavior of parking his car in the bike lane and blocking safe passage for people bicycling by, it was deeply upsetting to see him unnecessarily disrupt and add tension to what was already an emotional and difficult time for many people who lamented this sad loss of life,” Shahum wrote.

Asked about the actions and attitudes expressed today by Ernst, who we could not reach for comment, Sgt. Toomer told us he “cannot talk about personnel issues.”

Compounding Ernst’s insensitive and judgmental approach today, it also appears the SFPD may have failed to properly investigate this incident, which Shahum and the SFBC have been tracking closely, and she said the SFPD told her that there were no video surveillance tapes of the collision.

After today’s event, SFBC's Marc Caswell decided to check in at businesses on the block to see if they had any video cameras aimed at the intersection, and he found an auto body business at the intersection whose workers said they did indeed have revealing footage of the crash that the SFPD hasn’t requested, but which SFBC today delivered to investigators.

“He had the time to come harass us as a memorial, but he didn’t have the time to see if anyone had footage of this incident. It’s very unsettled,” Shahum told us.

Whoever was ultimately at fault in this collision and others that have injured or killed bicyclists in San Francisco, today’s confrontation demonstrates an unacceptable and dangerous insensitivity and animosity toward bicyclists in San Francisco, which was also on display in the comments to the post that I wrote last week about the incident.

It’s fine to debate what happens on the streets of San Francisco, and you can even harbor resentments toward bicyclists and believe that we deserve your ire. But when you endanger people’s lives to make a point, or when you threaten violence against vulnerable road users, then you’ve gone too far.

Yes, let’s talk about what happens on the roads and how to improve behaviors, but let’s not forget our humanity in the process.  

Comments

I tend to believe a neutral cop over a partisan bunch of activists.

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

against activists and therefore, to follow your thinking, your posts are irrelevant!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

indicate that either the driver was at fault or the cyclist was at fault. You will have to wait for the police report rather than make wild assumptions.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 6:32 am

and assuming the activists are wrong. You are biased.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:00 am

I had retained an open mind up until that point, even though I thought it was vulgar and cheap to hold a protest on that site while rationalizing it as a memorial.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:27 am

"But when you endanger people’s lives to make a point, or when you threaten violence against vulnerable road users, then you’ve gone too far."

Yes. And when you do while sucking at the public teat of generous wages and pension benefits, you demonstrate a huge need for some publicly-administered comeupance.

Is this one of the SFPD guys shilling for Mossad too? I mean -- there are *some* decent SF cops, right? I know there are.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

Leah is wringing her face the same way that Redmond used to wring his hands.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:51 pm
Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

What's the beef?

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

Good question on 'where's the beef.'

Bike lanes and intersections don't mix well Instead of everyone getting aghast at Shahum facing the same dismissive, intransigent and dangerous cops that we all face every day, how about she leverage her political power as she's been asked to over the past decade to use the opening we created at the Police Commission to change departmental culture as pertains to bikes?

Why is it special when Shahum gets the SFPD snub that we all get all the time?

Reworking cop culture is a full plate. How about we narrow our focus to cleaning up the downside mess of the SFBC's "all bike lanes, all the time" priorities by figuring out how to reengineer bike facilities, sidewalk bulbs, truck routes and intersections so that they're not death traps?

Posted by marcos on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:00 am

but sadly one of the things they get wrong is to be too strident and preachy when the situation calls for reflection and restraint.

Perception matters and the SFBC achieve less because they are perceived as arrogant and pushy.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:09 am

So if they have only a little influence, then that is appropriate.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:44 am

I'm sorry the memorial for this cyclist did not go as planned. That is a shame, but considering what this city has become and is continuing to evolve into, I'm not surprised.
Maybe they can have another private memorial some place else that will not be marred. And it's sad and pathetic that the parasitic, thriving-on-dysfunction, hateful, right-wing, bootlicker trolls who live on a website that they despise (the SFBG) would stoop so low as to use this incident as an opportunity to spew their continued smug hatred at cyclists. They clearly have no "moral" barometer or even just basic sense/standards. And that local activist who posted on here who's in constant need of attention had to grind his axe yet again over his pet topic at the moment. I no longer read anything he writes. Loco.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

holding it there was provocative and it is no surprise that the police felt the need to take action to forestall it.

Surely a small private gathering elsewhere would have been more appropriate for the family, rather than trying to score political capital out of it as the SFBC clearly was trying to do.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 6:33 am

I'm sorry she didn't pick a place more appropriate to die. Next time a cyclist dies, maybe they can consult you first to see if the place meets your standards.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:31 am

Memorials are typically held in a place with happy memories for the family of the deceased.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:07 am

Loco is making "connecting the City" through marquee bike tracks when the meat and potatoes of every day cycling through existing facilities is deadly.

Almost all bike trips will start and end off network. For that, the SFBC has nothing, nothing at all to say about safety on 99% of our streets.

Anyone who knows anything about the inner workings of the MTA and bike policy knows that the SFBC punches way below its weight politically. The downside cost to this is measured in blood, bones and corpses.

Did the sidewalk bulb out have any role to play in making that intersection more difficult for bikes and trucks to traverse safely?

What steps will the SFPD and MTA take to reengineer bike lanes at intersections so that safety is intuitive rather than an inconvenient luxury?

But no, Leah was snubbed, let's distract the issue from a woman who was killed or from solutions to prevent more deaths onto Leah's humiliation. it seems that public humiliation the only way to get the SFBC to take any risks.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:06 am

All you had to do was offer him a donut to leave the bike lane and I'm sure he would have moved!

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic, but isn't that the cop's mo, so if he can dish it, he damn well better take it).

Horrible tragedy. Ignoring the pompous prick cop, I think the bigger issue is their utter lack of an investigation.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 5:33 am

The fact that they didn't bring charges doesn't mean they didn't investigate.

Generally the cops need independent witnesses to an accident, otherwise it is just a he-said, she-said thing (and in this case, she cannot say anything of course).

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 6:30 am

Read the story again: SFPD claimed to ask local businesses for surveillance video, then the SFBC found a business right across the street that had video of the collision. The cop could have done some basic police work instead of jumping to the conclusion that the cyclist was at fault (before the investigation was even complete) and showing up to lecture those mourning her death and creating an unnecessary traffic hazard to do so. If there's any justice in this city, Chief Suhr will transfer Sgt. Ernst to bike duty so he can learn his own lessons about biking in SF.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:00 am

I suspect that either the police were not made aware of the existence of a camera there or that they deemed the angle, light, obstructions or other factors rendered that camera view moot.

Of course, we do not yet know what that footage shows and there is no reason to believe that it will exculpate the cyclist any more than it will the driver.

If we find out AND it shows the driver to be partially at fault, then I feel sure you will tell us. Will you be as quick to tell us if it exonerates the driver from all blame?

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:15 am

thinking up excuses and apologies for the police.

Maybe nothing will come from the video that the SFBC discovered, but at least, they are trying to find a record of the event unlike the SFPD who would rather endanger bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians by gratuitously blocking the bike lane.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:22 am

100% at fault, I doubt that they would have said anything.

Consider the source - it's hardly unbiased.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:34 am

They didn't ask X?

You are the George Zimmerman of San Francisco, if indeed you even live here. Too stupid to be a cop so you idolize them.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:49 am

They arrive on the scene, take account of visual evidence and witness testimony and form a judgment on how probable it is that a crime was committed.

if there is no initial evidence that a crime was committed, it is instead investigated as an accident and, for the most part, insurance companies then do the investigating.

Point being the cops only investigate crime and there was no prima facie evidence of crime here.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:43 am

who clearly assumes everyone else is an idiot too.
They "form a judgment on how probable it is that a crime was committed"?
What does that even mean, except that you are painfully desperate for someone to think you are intelligent while waving the flag of moronism?
You haven't seen police investigating and documenting the scene of a traffic accident?
What did you think? That they were carefully examining the scene for car crime?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:47 am

initial examination of the accident scene, and interview any witnesses, to establish whether there is any grounds for a criminal investigation.

If there is they proceed with that. If not, then there are plenty of other real crimes to investigate.

I've been present for a number of road accidents and the police process at those has been consistent and thorough.

If it is considered an accident then a purely civil investigation takes place, typically be an insurance company.

You should get out from behind that computer some times and actually learn about the real world.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Here's the thing - the SFPD claimed they did this most basic of police work.
They claimed they did proceed to that next stage, but they didn't actually do it.
Your arguments are as good as chicken fried in shit.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

watching them in previous accidents is that they looked for "line-of-sight" camera's and if none were clearly visible, and no witnesses cited them, then they would only pursue that if there was prima facie evidence of a crime.

In this case, there was none. The driver's insurance company will no doubt look at this alleged video, if it really exists and shows what is claimed, when considering whether to pay or deny any claim.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

in order to make excuses for cops who lie about doing their jobs.

These bootlicking trolls want these bad cops to continue the sucking at the public teat while working to make sure certain citizens can be capriciously deprived of their lives or civil liberties.

Only the lowest form of troll could defend this behavior, and of course SFBG.com has got 'em!

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

line of sight. Usually in reference to shots fired, but it's clearly applicable here.

Stand on that intersection and you cannot clearly see any cameras. The cops were right here.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

The SFBC and SFPD endanger cyclists by avoiding enforcing the Vehicle Code against miscreant motorists. This just emboldens them and makes cycling more and more dangerous.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:54 am

of a camera there "
Yeah that's some mighty fine investigating on the part of your heroes, you limp dicked little coward.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:29 am

The cop asks questions. If the answers to those questions do not reveal X, then the cops will not know X.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:33 am

you're going to have to take that cop dick out of your mouth for a second and take a deep breath.
The cops clearly didn't ask this neighboring business for a copy of the video or they would have been "made aware" of it's existence. The police investigated this about as well as my dog scoops up his own shit.
This doesn't mean that you have to stop masturbating into a police hat, it just means you can't expect the rest of us to join you.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:37 am

been committed then, yes, they would have proceeded to that next stage of the investigation.

But when there is no prima facie evidence of a crime, as in this case, then it is typically the driver's insurance company that conducts investigations, because it is purely a civil matter and the cops don't do civil matters.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:51 am

Here's the thing - the SFPD claimed they did this most basic of police work (which, yes was called for considering the evidence on the street suggest strongly that the truck made an illegal maneuver in turning across a bike lane).

They claimed they did proceed to that next stage, but they didn't actually do it. You're arguments are as good as SFPD's police work.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:53 am

All that I have seen indicates only that the truck was making a turn and that there was a collision between it and a bike. That could have a number of causes that are not illegal.

And AFAIK, not a single witness testified that the truck driver did anything wrong nor that it was breaking the law.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

fault for this accident. An objective journalist would have reported that.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:41 am

I suspect, therefore I am.
I suspect a majority of voters have the capacity to recognize mealy mouthed mewlings and weasel words from a sad little internet troll.

Do you see what I'm doing here?
I'm taking away your weasel words.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:40 am

There are far more drivers and pedestrians in this city than there are cyclists. So it is not much of a stretch to realize that the views of a strident narrow-interest lobby group like the SFBC is a minority viewpoint.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:49 am

In other words, it's an opinion based on nothing more than your itchy sphincter.
You sir are a "strident narrow-interest lobby group" consisting of one lonely little fuck.
Ok. What other weasel words do you have in your weasel bag?
Majority? You like that one, don't you.
Makes you feel less isolated in your anger and fear.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:06 am

I was simply explaining to you that most people are moderate centrists who do not throw blame around the way that extremists do.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:15 am

with a "realization" that required you to "stretch" your little imagination in order to make believe you were correct.
Why are you so repulsed by facts? Are you mentally defective? Are you somehow frightened by the thought that you aren't in the MAJORITY?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:38 am

Present a fact and I'll tell you what is wrong with it.

But you'd rather just take cheap shots, right?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:57 am

You got all upset and confused.
Well that's how it goes. One second your a blistering cannon of bullshit, convinced that you're really showing everyone how smart and righteous you are and then you just get all tuckered out from scrambling to defend all your lies and weasel words.
Tell you what, little fella. Take a nice little nap and dream of your friend the horny nazi policemen who's big and strong, and just like you, he's never wrong.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Just failed attempts at insults?

How lame.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Jason Grant Garza ... SFPD and OCC are more CONCERNED with appearance and liability however, not HUMAN LIFE, MEDICAL LAW nor fixing RIGGED procedure.

So she goes to the USELESS "Risk Management" TOOL of the SFPD to complain ... what a FARCE and RIGGED disappointment is she in for. They are there to "fix the intelligence, reclassify CRIME into mistakes, and NOT properly INVESTIGATE.

What how can I say this .... watch where I am DENIED medical care at DPH with a CRIMINALLY FRAUD "Restraining Order" that the SFPD and Sheriff could NOT verify http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo and NOTE what I got from the RIGGED procedure at OCC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnKEraML-WE . NOW ASK me if I was called in for the INTERVIEW and followup ... HELL NO ... no investigation and the officers are cleared... and that is EXACTLY what happened. RIGGED is as RIGGED does ... however, so is the Sheriff (see youtube videos) and SFPD (see videos)

Now this has been going on for OVER a YEAR ... look at the other agencies to see the pattern ...

So when Shahum states that she tried with the officer as I did with the officers over the fraudulent documents provided by DPH to BREAK the LAW ... she will get the same RIGGED process and the officer will be cleared.

Too bad she HAD faith ... shall we JUDGE by RESULT ... my advise ... start videotaping and documenting all since they will change the paperwork and misspeak ...

Yes here is her Shahum's plea to SANITY in the INSANE world of SFPD,

" But she said Ernst refused to do so for almost 10 minutes, telling the group that he has “a right” to leave his car than and that he was “making the point that bicyclists need to move around” cars parked in bike lanes, according to Shahum’s written account, which she prepared to file a report about the incident with the Office of Citizens Complaints." then she does on to say " Compounding Ernst’s insensitive and judgment approach today, it also appears the SFPD may have failed to properly investigate this incident, which Shahum and the SFBC have been tracking closely, and she said the SFPD told her that there were no video surveillance tapes of the collision.

After today’s event, SFBC Marc Caswell decided to check in at businesses on the block to see if they had any video cameras aimed at the intersection, and he found an auto body business at the intersection whose workers said they did indeed have revealing footage of the crash that the SFPD hasn’t requested, but which SFBC today delivered to investigators.

“He had the time to come harass us as a memorial, but he didn’t have the time to see if anyone had footage of this incident. It’s very unsettled,” Shahum told us."

Oh and look at the Chief of Police and Police Commission tapes to see HOW much they care ... ha,ha,ha.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 6:26 am

I SUSPECT!
I suspect, therefore I am.
I suspect a majority of voters have the capacity to recognize mealy mouthed mewlings and weasel words from a sad little internet troll.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:30 am

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