SF Bicycle Cop Struck, Severely Injured, Outside Opera Plaza Garage

The officer's damaged bike, from a KTVU report.
The officer's damaged bike, from a KTVU report.

Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel of the Tenderloin police station was critically injured while riding his bicycle beat yesterday afternoon. He was struck by a motorist on Turk Street, near the corner of Turk and Van Ness, outside the Opera Plaza garage. A suspect is in custody, although SFPD Detectives were still canvassing for witnesses this afternoon near where he was hit.

From the latest SFPD release:

He was struck by a fleeing suspect’s vehicle on the mid-block of Turk Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. After undergoing surgery yesterday, Ofc. Lewin-Tankel remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit. Elia Lewin-Tankel, 32 years of age, began his career with the San Francisco Police Department in 2012 and worked at several stations before being permanently assigned to Tenderloin Station in March 2016. Elia chose to be assigned to Tenderloin Police Station which is one of the busiest, most demanding districts, a testament to his dedication to serving the residents of San Francisco.

Officer Lewin Tankel, prior to the crash, in a photo provided by his family via the SFPD
Officer Lewin-Tankel, prior to the crash, in a photo provided by his family via the SFPD

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Brian Wiedenmeier issued the following statement:

Our deepest sympathies and best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to the officer injured in yesterday’s hit-and-run, to the officer’s family and to his colleagues at SFPD’s Tenderloin station. Every single time someone is seriously hurt biking in our city, it pains my heart. Knowing that this officer was struck trying to keep our city safe while investigating a case involving a firearm makes it that much more difficult.

Media outlets have reported that the motorist who hit the officer was driving a white Lexus SUV with stolen plates, which was later found abandoned. The suspect was taken into custody later yesterday afternoon, a few miles from the scene. The SF Examiner is reporting that officers were investigating a possible firearm violation on Turk Street and that the driver of the SUV spotted them and fled, striking Lewin-Tankel. A police officer in Opera Plaza today said the investigation is being handled as an attempted murder.

A police officer on a bike was critically injured outside this garage by a suspect driving an SUV. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
A police officer on a bike was critically injured outside this garage by a suspect driving an SUV. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Turk, it’s worth noting, is a street that is slated for parking-protected bike lanes–a project that’s been repeatedly delayed and threatened. It’s unclear if parking-protected bike lanes would have made a difference in this case; we’ll see as more details emerge.

“The department is working to support Elia’s family and his colleagues,” according to a police statement sent this afternoon. “Elia’s family asks, ‘Everyone to send good energy and prayers for his recovery, which we know will happen, because Elia is a survivor.'”

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