Jail Time for Hunting Down People on Bikes With a Car While Drunk: Zero

2887130491_b1c9cece0e.jpgWhat will
it take for people to realize hitting people on bikes is not a laughing
matter? (Photo: Pedal_Power_Pete
via Flickr)

Earlier this week, we wrote about a Mike Pintek, a Pittsburgh radio
show host who joked
about hitting bicyclists with his car
.

Today, we read in the Chicago
Bicycle Advocate Blog
about two young men who were convicted of
hunting down bicyclists to hit with their car — while they were drunk.

Good thing they were convicted, you might think. But when you hear
the sentences they received, you might be shocked:

The second man charged with intentionally hunting down and
striking a bicyclist in Brookfield on May 31, 2009 has been sentenced to
zero jail time. The driver, 20-year-old Erik Fabian, pled guilty to
aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of an
accident.  He was sentenced to two years probation.  Fabian’s
buddy, Armando Reza, was sentenced last week to 10 days in jail
for
the same incident, a seemingly light sentence that has outraged a good
many Chicago bicyclists. According
to the Chicago Breaking News Center
, the two were drinking before
deciding to drive around looking for bicyclists to hit. Both men were
sentenced by Cook County Judge Carol Kipperman.

The Active
Transportation Alliance
, a Chicago bicycle advocacy group, has
expressed outrage at the "insufficient sentences" given to the men. This
morning the group started a letter-writing campaign directed at Cook
County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, and assistant state’s attorney,
Mike Pattarozzi, to justify these negotiated sentences. According to the
Alliance the crimes with which the men were charged were eligible for
penalties of up to 2-5 years in jail.

According to a news
story
about the incident, the two men dared each other to commit
the assaults. It was like a game to them — they even pulled over to
switch seats so they could each get a chance to play. Fortunately,
neither of the people they struck was seriously injured. But it’s not
hard to imagine how differently it might have turned out.

And yet, in a culture where assault with a vehicle is routinely
joked about, prosecutors are willing to cut offenders an easy deal.

More from around the network: Xing
Columbus
writes in praise of car-pooling. M-Bike.org
has some news about more funding for the Underground Railroad bike
route. And Atlanta
Bicycle Coalition
reports on a $5 million boost for a major bike
trail in that city.

  • Eric

    There is some hope for justice in this case, and precedent. Back in the late 90’s in Chicago we faced something similar, though with a more grim crime in question – the intentional killing of courier Thomas McBride. The driver was convincted of first degree murder.

    http://www.laurenjo.com/articles/chicago_12_5_01.shtml

  • Alexei

    When I hear stories like this, it makes me want to make some fake street signs to put up around town: “No running down or killing pedestrians or cyclists. Fine $100”, or whatever the mild penalty in the latest case might be. Maybe that’ll get people’s attention.

  • @Alexei no need to educate the cretins that they can actually get away with murder. They might decide to take you up on it.

    ref: Freakonomics, Child care center was having trouble with people being late to pick up their kids. So they started fining people $5 for being late. Lateness increased – $5 was less of a penalty than feeling guilty for being late. It was like “upgrading” to extra child care for $5.

  • Alexei

    Well, I figure that if it’s widely known, there will be more outrage and it will be changed faster, whereas if it’s just some quietly-dropped cases now and then, there will be no action. If you want to correct the injustice, there’s no avoiding the fact that you have to educate the public about the existence of the injustice, and the fact that this knowledge might lead some evil people to evil deeds is unavoidable to my mind.

  • Dan

    Ms. Alvarez (the State’s Attorney) responded to the letter writing campaign, basically saying that she requested jail time and the Judge issues probation over her objections. See the reply: http://bit.ly/agAmBG

    Judge Kipperman’s office can be reached at (708) 865-6060 if anyone would like to voice their thoughts.

    -Dan

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