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Cyclist Assaulted By Driver and Passenger at Scott and Fell on the Wiggle

A bicycle commuter was assaulted by a driver and her passenger on Scott Street between Oak and Fell Streets on the Wiggle last week.

Dana Kess, 24, of Pacifica and Carmen Struell, 25, of San Francisco were arrested on Tuesday, May 8, for crashing into and beating the 31-year-old San Francisco woman and vandalizing her bike, said SFPD Park Station Captain John Feeney.

On Scott Street, where the conflict apparently began, bicyclists making a left onto Fell Street merge into a left-turn bike lane. Photo: Google Maps

According to the police report, the bicyclist was merging into the left-turn bike lane northbound on Scott Street across Oak at around 9:15 a.m., when Kess came dangerously close to hitting her, forcing her to swerve away. When the victim caught up with the car waiting at the stop light, she yelled, “Are you fucking crazy?” according to the report. Struell then threw food from the window at the victim, who then spat towards the car.

Then, Feeney said, Kess reportedly drove into the victim from behind, causing her to fall to the ground. Both Kess and Struell got out of the car and began assaulting her, jumping on her bike and slashing her tires. The two got back in the car and began to drive away when the victim threw her bicycle toward the car. The two got back out and attacked the victim again, pulling her hair. The victim did not need hospital treatment for her injuries, according to the report.

Police then arrived on the scene in response to a report of a traffic collision and arrested the assailants. Kess was charged with felony assault and battery, malicious mischief, and driving with a suspended license. Struell, her passenger, was charged with misdemeanor battery.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum said that ”while San Francisco streets are getting safer for people riding bikes, we are saddened that incidents like this one still occur. Assaults against other road users should not be tolerated, and we are encouraged that the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s Offices are taking assaults like these seriously.”

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Nightmare on Oak Street: Couple Harassed While Biking, Blamed By SFPD

On their ride home from a Valentine’s Day dinner, Ian Long and Johanna Weaver were harassed by an angry driver and allegedly threatened by a police officer who didn’t want to hear their story.

Long and Weaver were riding in the right-hand lane of Oak Street along the popular Wiggle bike route around 8 p.m. on February 14, when they say a Toyota Prius driver approached from behind and began honking before swerving in front of Weaver first and then Long. After the driver and the couple all turned right onto Scott Street (following the topography of the Wiggle), the two say the driver slammed on his brakes and forced Long to crash into the back of the car, causing injuries to his hands. The driver stayed at the scene, though Long said he was initially unresponsive to his questions.

The two officers who responded weren’t much more helpful, according to Long, Weaver, and at least two other witnesses. According to a video interview with the couple and Long’s roommate, who drove to the scene, San Francisco Northern District Police Officers Joshua Olson and Melvin Maunu interviewed the driver, but seemed reluctant to take testimony from the victims and other witnesses.

Long said that as he attempted to explain his side of the story, Olson interrupted him and threatened to throw him in jail “for vandalizing the vehicle,” even as Long’s finger bled “quite profusely.”

In fact, Long said he feared the officer would have arrested him had he not accepted medical attention from paramedics.

SFPD Northern Station Captain Ann Mannix says that although she hasn’t spoken with the officers about the incident, the story in the police report is very different. ”This is a case of one side having a completely different view from the other side,” she said.

Mannix doesn’t contest that the driver “behaved badly” on Oak Street, but she said the police report claims that Long appeared to follow the driver onto Scott and continue the confrontation. She said the driver claimed that Long “intentionally hit the car,” adding that “following too closely” is a traffic violation. Both the driver and Weaver, who said she saw the crash from behind, called the police.

But because the officers arrived late, Mannix said “tensions were pretty heated” when they got there. The crash happened in SFPD’s Park District, but officers from that station were tied up for unknown reasons, so Olson and Maunu were dispatched from the neighboring Northern District.

Alex Page was riding on Scott Street when he saw the crash, and he confirmed Long and Weaver’s description of events. “Investigation,” Page said, is ”too generous a word” to describe Olson’s efforts to interview witnesses. Page said the officer told him, “‘I don’t care what you have to say.’”

“He came in with serious bias, and even commanded his partner to cease taking the statement of the victim (the bicyclist) and considered the driver the victim of vandalism after about 10 seconds on the scene and speaking to zero witnesses, only the driver,” Page told Streetsblog.

However, the report, which cites a witness identified as a bicyclist, says eight or nine bicyclists surrounding the car were “yelling and banging on” it. Long and Weaver said they were only there to prevent the driver from fleeing the scene.

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Always Wear a Bullet-Proof Helmet

diez.jpgThe shooter, Charles Diez.
Here's some incredible out-of-town road rage, via TreeHugger. A motorist in Asheville, North Carolina was so incensed by the sight of a father biking with his 3-year-old kid mounted on a rear seat, that he pulled over and fired a gun at the cycling dad's head:

Police said the driver, Charles Diez, claimed he was upset that the victim was bike riding with his child on the heavily traveled Tunnel Road.

Diez pulled a gun and opened fire, hitting the victim in his bicycle helmet, according to police. They said the bullet penetrated the outer lining of the helmet but did not actually hit the victim's head.

Diez, a firefighter, has been charged with attempted first degree murder. We'll see how the "I shot the father to protect the child" defense holds up in court.