LA Road Rage Doc Convicted for Horrific 2008 Cyclist Assault

thompson.jpgDr. Christopher Thompson is taken away in cuffs Monday. Photo: Los Angeles Times

Following
a highly-publicized, intensely-followed trial, Christopher Thompson,
the physician accused of using his car to seriously injure two cyclists
in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, is behind bars.

Thompson was convicted yesterday of six felony counts: two counts each, according to VeloNews, of assault with a deadly weapon, battery with
serious bodily injury, and reckless driving causing specified
injury and mayhem.

On
July 4, 2008, Thompson passed cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian
Stoehr as the pair rode through the emergency room surgeon’s upscale
neighborhood. Angry after a verbal exchange with the men, Thompson slammed on the brakes
of his red Infiniti as Peterson and Stoehr rode behind. Stoehr ended up
in front of the car, wounded with a separated shoulder. Peterson hit
the rear window, suffering severe facial injuries. Thompson told police
on the scene that he was tired of cyclists in his neighborhood and
wanted to "teach them a lesson."

At trial, Thompson denied
making that statement, claiming that he had been attempting to get
photographs of the cyclists, who he said had frightened him. But the
jury didn’t buy it, possibly because of Thompson’s history of hostility
toward people on bikes. He was also convicted Monday of misdemeanor
reckless driving, a charge stemming from a prior encounter with two
other cyclists.

Prosecutor Mary
Stone urged that Thompson be remanded to jail, saying: "In terms of
public safety, there isn’t a cyclist in Los Angeles who would be
comfortable if he were out on the streets." Judge Scott Millington
apparently agreed, ordering Thompson held without bail. Sentencing is
set for December 3. Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison.

Thompson
could very well get off with a light sentence. But to have prosecutors,
a judge and jury members agree on the heinous nature of this crime, and
to deem its non-driving victims worthy of justice, can scarcely be
interpreted as anything other than a positive development — one that
will hopefully be noticed by law enforcement officials nationwide.

Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA has followed this case since Thompson’s arrest last year. You can catch up on the coverage here.

  • SFResident

    Good. Assaulting a bicyclist, pedestrian, or even another driver with your car is no better than shooting a gun at them. These crimes need to be taken seriously and miscreants like this removed from the streets.

  • There was actually a similar incident on the bridge over Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto a few years back, a driver got upset with a group ride and pulled in front and brake checked the bunch. In that case a cyclist also went through the windshield and suffered serious injuries. The driver did not even get a ticket.

    We’ll call this progress. There was also a case like this in Australia with a major group ride of professional cyclists, I’m not sure what the outcome there was.

  • “Thompson passed cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr as the pair rode through the emergency room surgeon’s upscale neighborhood”

    I think that’s one of the most chilling things. This guy is an ER surgeon?!!

    “Thompson told police on the scene that he was tired of cyclists in his neighborhood and wanted to “teach them a lesson.””

    I’ve heard that one before. That seems to be a common attitude among motorists who don’t believe cyclists should be on the road at all.

  • rzu

    I hope his sentence involves permanent suspension of his driving privileges.

  • Richard

    I second rzu. Someone convicted of assault with a gun should be banned from owning guns, and someone convicted of assault using a car should be banned from driving one. Plus, it would be a beautiful irony if taking away the keys left bicycling as his best option to get around.

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