SFPD Faults Trucker in Le Moullac’s Death, Apologizes for Ernst’s Behavior

SFPD Chief Greg Suhr gives a thumbs up at a stop light on Seventh Street on yesterday's bike-share celebration ride to City Hall. Photo: Aaron Bialick

San Francisco police have determined that the truck driver who killed Amelie Le Moullac on her bike this month was at fault for the crash, after footage of the incident was found by the SF Bicycle Coalition. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr has also apologized in statements to the press for the behavior of Sergeant Richard Ernst, who stopped by at a rally and memorial held in Le Moullac’s honor to harass bicycle advocates and blame victims killed on bicycles this year for their own deaths.

The determination of fault in the crash at Folsom in Sixth Streets, first reported by the SF Chronicle’s Chuck Nevius, apparently confirms that the driver made an illegal right turn in front of Le Moullac, failing to yield and merge into the bike lane. The SFPD, which had initially indicated that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the driver, says that it will submit the case to District Attorney George Gascón’s office, who will decide whether or not to press criminal charges, according to the SF Examiner. The DA’s office has reportedly not received the case yet.

“We’re satisfied with the conclusion because we believe it comports with the evidence that Ms. Le Moullac did nothing to contribute to this collision,” said Micha Star Liberty, an attorney representing Le Moullac’s family. Liberty said that while the family “looks forward to a decision being made” by the DA, “it really doesn’t impact the civil rights of the family, which is geared towards ways to compensate victims.”

When I asked Chief Suhr why surveillance video footage of the crash wasn’t found by SFPD investigators — bicycle advocate Marc Caswell tracked it down instead — he said that “there’s often times when there’s an investigation and, very fortunately, citizens make us aware of things that we might not have found on our first pass. We make mistakes. Obviously, we’re super, super happy we have this video now. I’ve seen it myself, and I think it demonstrates clearly what happened with the accident.”

The SFBC said in a blog post yesterday that although it’s relieved to see “justice” in the case, “We are still concerned that the lack of initial investigation into this crash raises concerns about other cases where people biking or walking have been killed.”

“We want justice to be fair and equal,” said SFBC Deputy Director Kit Hodge. “We’re happy to see that the case is being treated accordingly.”

As for Sergeant Ernst, who deliberately blocked a bike lane at an SFBC rally at the location of Le Moullac’s crash to call for safer streets in her honor, Suhr said “any time a member of the San Francisco Police Department is a distraction from the person being remembered at a memorial, it’s not okay.”

“I feel very badly about it, and I can’t tell you how sad the department is that this young gal lost her life, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family,” he said.

Still, Liberty said Suhr hasn’t returned her phone calls offering him the opportunity to apologize to the family personally.

“Solely making a statement to a reporter seems a little like damage control when the family is here and available, and would love to hear from the chief himself,” she said.

  • maaaty

    I’m sensing a change in mentality here, one that we all need to continue to advocate for.

  • Anonymous

    “We want justice to be fair and equal,”

    It’s just a sad statement that there is any possibility that someone does not have equal rights the second they sling their leg over the tube.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you are right.

  • Upright Biker

    As usual, someone had to give their life for this change in mentality to occur. Someone who was someone’s lovely daughter.

    It really shouldn’t have to come to this.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    a change in mentality here

    “Next time, make sure you destroy the evidence, OK?”

  • Anonymous

    Heads up: SFPD is ticketing bicyclists riding the Wiggle today for rolling stop signs. This is the same biased agency that routinely fails to cite motorists for killing and maiming pedestrians, bicyclists and each other. This is the same biased agency that lies about their criminally shoddy “investigations” into how those killings and maimings occur. This is the same biased agency that fails to excoriate its biased officers when they harass cyclists calling for better streets, and are seen on television wrongfully blaming victims for their own demise. Bias, bias, bias.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Here Comes Bodie!

  • Anonymous

    Did you ask them if they had video evidence you ran the stop sign? I’m sure they’d be right on it!

  • Anonymous

    This is so irritating. How about these guys come sit at Cesar Chavez at the Hairball and watch how many motorists nearly kill me every time I try to get under that god-forsaken beast that is 101 on my bicycle? This is just one example of an intersection where people’s lives are actually at risk, but never once have a seen a cop hang out there and do something about these crazed motorists who think Cesar Chavez is a freeway.

  • Anonymous

    Nocomment on punishment for Herr Ernst? Consequeces need to befall this Nazi.

  • Greg

    Why do you need to be heads up about police enforcing traffic laws if you follow them? Oh, that’s right, bikers don’t. I’m all in favor of car drivers getting tickets for not following the law. I’m not going to warm them of enforcement so they can avoid a ticket today and go back to breaking the law tomorrow.

  • Greg

    Not all jerks are Nazis.

  • mikesonn

    All DUI checkpoints are blasted on the news for days prior to the actual date of enforcement.

  • Morgan Fitzgibbons

    It would be police enforcing traffic laws if they ticketed the vast majority of car drivers who fail to come to full and complete stops at the same intersections. Instead, this is a sting operation aimed exclusively at cyclists. And it’s probably retaliation for my strongly worded article to boot.

  • Anonymous

    Why would we need to publicize DUI checkpoints, crackdowns on speeding, and crackdowns on driving-while-texting if motorists follow the law? Oh, that’s right, motorists don’t follow the law.

  • Anonymous

    but all cyclists are, right?

  • Anonymous

    I’m all in favor of drivers and cyclists getting tickets for driving/riding *dangerously*. The most dangerous behavior should be the most heavily enforced. For example, I don’t want to see all the cops spending their time stopping people for driving 5 miles over the limit on the 101 (because that’s where it’s easy to issue many tickets at once and meet a quota), leaving no resources left for people running red lights, speeding through residential zones, and driving drunk/stoned. Similarly, I would be happy to see cops stopping cyclists who cut off pedestrians, blow through red lights, ride on the sidewalk, ride the wrong way on the street, and ride without lights at night. But not ticketing cyclists who roll through stop signs with no traffic (the bike equivalent of going 5 miles over the limit).

  • Greg

    Probably none are. Do you think there are any 90+ year old bikers around that were Nazis? Maybe one old man in Argentina?

  • Greg

    I’m good with that. Add to that, ticketing jaywalkers in certain circumstances too. Folks need to understand that while their law breaking might seem like no big deal it can have a dangerous indirect impact on others.

  • Logan H.

    This is called “collective punishment”. Bicyclists are being punished as a class because they dared to (a) point out SFPD’s gross incompetence, and (b) challenged Sgt Ernst’s egregious behavior.

  • cm

    Name calling isn’t necessary here. Actions speak louder than anything else. Deliberating parking his car illegally during a memorial service for Amelie to harass her grieving family is beyond reprehensible…He’s disgusting and an embarrassment to himself, his family, to SFPD and citizens everywhere. It’s up to Suhr to make sure he deals with the matter in a manner that makes sense to the the LeMoullac family, SFBC, and to all citizens of the greater Bay Area. I speak for myself, and I hope for others, when I say I’m not letting this issue fade away. Before we can change policy we need to change attitudes.

  • GS

    This is horrible! I used to date her back in high school. Very sweet person. Super sad, prayers are with her sister and family. I work one block away in soma, and I can’t tell you how many times drivers don’t pay attention to pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

  • GS

    This is horrible! I used to date her back in high school. Very sweet person. Super sad, prayers are with her sister and family. I work one block away in soma, and I can’t tell you how many times drivers don’t pay attention to pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

  • NoeValleyJim

    So the DA has still not pressed charges here, right? Has SFPD even completed the case yet?

  • mikesonn

    We need an update on this case. Keep their feet to the fire!

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Note: Amelie Le Moullac’s mother, Jessie Jewitt, and other Bay Area musicians will perform at a benefit concert on Friday in Palo Alto at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds will go to Amélie’s Angels, “a fund dedicated to bringing the gifts of education, food, clothing, toys, and most importantly love and laughter, to the children of Haiti.” The truck […]