We learned yesterday that the sentencing of Dr. Christopher Thompson, the man convicted of six felonies including assault with a deadly weapon—his car—after he seriously injured several bicyclists in Los Angeles’ Mandeville Canyon, has been delayed until January 8, 2010.
While I am not happy about the delay, it does give us one more chance to remind fellow cyclists to join Dave Zabriskie’s letter writing campaign to ensure that Thompson gets the appropriate sentence. The maximum sentence is 10 years, but the judge could sentence Thompson to as little as probation. This is particularly possible because Thompson’s supporters have organized a campaign of their own.
Here is my letter:
Dear District Attorney Stone,
Thank you for your work in prosecuting the “car versus bicycle” assault case of Doctor Christopher Thompson.
As a bicycle accident attorney, and an avid cyclist myself, I have a particular interest in this case. Each day I see clients who are injured by cars while riding their bikes. Although most of these injuries have been the result of negligence, recklessness, or just incompetence, I want to help ensure that someone as malicious as Christopher Thompson gets the sentence he deserves.
Most Californians are unaware that Vehicle Code section 21200 grants equal status to bicyclists on the road as to motor vehicles. This ignorance itself is not a threat, but it becomes dangerous when drivers, not understanding a bicyclist has the same right to use the road as they do, use their cars as deadly weapons to enforce their misconceptions.
Unfortunately, the legal system sometimes reinforces the perception of bicyclists as second-class citizens of the road. While you have represented bicyclists’ rights by prosecuting this as an assault case, let’s not dilute the message by giving Thompson a minimal sentence. The justice system needs to make the statement that this was a serious crime and that attacks on bicyclists will not be tolerated.
Please use this letter to convince the judge to give Thompson the harshest possible sentence.