View Full Version : Almost run down, and PPB said no harm no foul

10-02-2008, 08:34 PM
I wanted to share this directly with you guys because after the way the cop treated me I want to tell some folks who will give a damn.

Today at about 5:30pm I was leaving downtown via Broadway. I had crossed the overpass over 405 and was on Caruthers heading into the bumper to bumper traffic. As I'm on Caruthers nearing SW 6th, I can hear an ambulance coming from somewhere. I don't know where it's coming from but rather than stop and wait for the ambulance to pass, a car in front of me turned onto 6th from Caruthers and stopped in the bike lane. As I came around her I yelled that she was stopped in a bike lane--no profanity, but her window was open. I passed her and made my way to SW Sheridan where I made my way into the left turn lane. At this point, I hear an engine rev behind me and a car come screeching to a stop directly behind me. I turn around and she begins to yell at me. Asking why I yelled at her. I told her she was stopped in a bike lane. She guns her engine again at me and stops just short of hitting my back tire. I flinch and decide to let it go and turn around and wait for the light to change. We get the green arrow to turn onto Sheridan from 6th and the car in front of me goes. I begin pedaling and she guns her engine and passes me on the left going into what would be on coming traffic. All the while yelling at me. A cyclist behind me and a cyclist heading north on 6th would have witnessed it, but I didn't get names unfortunately. I pull over and call the police and give them her plate number because, to my mind, she at the very least harassed me and drove carelessly.

Normally I don't like to get involved with the police, but I had been thumbing through BTA's cycling handbook that makes it seem so easy, and I'd been the butt of plenty of driver hostility so I'd thought this time would be the time I did something.

An hour later a police car arrives to take a statement. Daniel Tatro was the responding officer. He asks what I happened, I tell him and he says, "What do you want me to do?" I tell him I want a report taken and have it referred to the DA for prosecution. He immediately starts giving me a hard time about how the driver lives all the way out in far SE and he'd have to call her and hear her side and he essentially doesn't think anything would happen. So I explain to him that I think he could at least take a report and send it to the DA because I think she harassed me and drove recklessly--which are both misdemeanors--but if not, at least careless driving which is a violation. He still keeps giving me her side of the story (without talking to her) about how she did this because of that, and maybe she'll say this and even said, "now I'm not making excuses for her but. . . "

Finally, I'd gotten just as frustrated with him as I had with her, and I said, "so you're saying you don't believe me?" And we went round and round on this and whether or not she did drive carelessly or if she did anything wrong. At some point, I told him that this, this right here, is why cyclists don't call the police, because nothing gets done, and no one takes our side. I told him there's a HUGE difference between me tell her she's in a bike lane, and her trying to hit me with her 3000 lbs car, while I'm on a bike. Still nothing; more excuses. After it was all said and done, i told him to forget it because nothing was gonna happen.

So, another fuck you from the Portland Police Bureau and a friendly reminder that we are all on our own out there.

10-02-2008, 10:48 PM
The word is not harrassed, it's menaced... She was menacing you from what I read. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you did feel like you were put at risk by her actions.

Download the PDF of the Action Pamphlet: Citizen Initiated Violation Proceedings (http://www.stc-law.com/pdf/ActionPamphlet.pdf) file from stc-law.com (http://www.stc-law.com/), proceed with the steps outlined. You might also read this article (http://www.stc-law.com/citizenprosecutions.html) to find out more about those who have used this successfully in the past.

You may be on your own to start with, but once you get started, you will find that the law is with you. I'd also add that it sounds like you've got enough for a post to "The Watch List... (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1730)".

To our readers, If any of you witnessed this, get in touch with jake_m and help us get this nutcase off the road.

Be Careful Out There!

10-03-2008, 09:33 AM
Menaced is right: cops are trained to use very specific language when writing their reports. The key words you need to use in this situation are: "she was driving so aggressively that she put me in fear of imminent serious physical injury". If the cop has half a brain they will remember their training and that this language mirrors the statute (ors 163.190). That might jog them into action.
Your other option is to go directly to the DA's office. There is a DA specifically assigned to traffic cases in multnomah county. That person is known as the "duii deputy", they are very over worked but if you are willing to be persistent, (ie go down to the office and try and meet with them, call all the time) you may be able to get them to at least force the officer to investigate and/or write a report. The DAs office is a political entity and as such needs to keep it's constituents happy, Mike Schrunk will meet with folks if they complain enough and I have seen action result from that lobbying, you just have to be willing to really push the case. Just my 2 cents.

10-03-2008, 01:45 PM
Jake, you said when you heard the ambulance, that you didn't know where it was coming from. Does this mean you knew it wasn't behind you, meaning that at this point, it wasn't necessary for you to pull over and stop? And the driver that left you with the impression that she pulled onto 6th from Caruthers rather than wait for the ambulance: if she didn't want to wait for the ambulance, have you got any idea why she decided to stop in the bike lane after she turned off Caruthers?

I'm trying to figure out if she might have thought that she needed to pull over herself, possibly not knowing exactly where the ambulance was, but sensing it was close enough that she needed to pull over in case it was coming her way. If true, stopping in the bike lane or any place at the side of the road to wait for an ambulance to come by would have been the right thing to do, correct? If that was her thought, I wonder if she also might have thought that this being the case, it was wrong under the circumstances for someone to give her a hard time for stopping in the bike lane.

Even if that's true, I don't see any justification for her having threatened you in the way she did; as the other guys said....menacing, or as you considered too; recklessly, carelessly. Without the other guy on a bike as a witness, I suppose you'd have a hard time getting the ear of a superior officer, but that's what I'd like to think you at least could somehow do.

You got the license plate number and the drivers description. Apparently the cop was able to figure out that she lives in SE. With that info, would he already have been able to check her driving record? Seems important for that to be done.

Also, you might list this incident on the watch list here in the forums.

10-03-2008, 02:20 PM
Is anyone surprised that the PPB ignored a criminal act here? They shouldn't be. The same thing has happened to me. And to lots of others.

10-03-2008, 03:29 PM
Is anyone surprised that the PPB ignored a criminal act here? They shouldn't be. The same thing has happened to me. And to lots of others.

Happened to me yesterday as a matter of fact. I don't want to get into it on this post but I've very close to snapping next time it happens. It may result in negative press but I'm growing tired of a cultural mindset that says "get off my roads". It's our road to share, if I need to take the lane for a few seconds, its ok for you to wait.

10-06-2008, 10:23 PM
Jake, I hope you're still thinking your bad experience over and considering getting someone in the PD to be accountable for it in some way. You spent an hour waiting around for an officer to show up. That alone should give your account some credibility with someone in the PD.

Meanwhile....not bike related per se, but check out this person's experience from the NYtimes Metropolitan Diary (I love reading the diary every week....):

" Early one morning several years ago, I was walking up Fifth Avenue on my way to work when I caught something in my peripheral vision: a five-foot-long lead pipe heading my way.

I sidestepped it deftly, and looked whence it came: In the darkened alcove of a shuttered storefront stood a man with long, wild hair and equally scraggly beard — completely in the buff.

I continued on my walk, and spotted a police car parked about a half-block up. I stood next to the side of the cruiser until the officer in the passenger seat cranked down his window.

“Hi, officer,” I said. “There’s a naked guy back there and he just threw a big pipe at me.”

The cop stared at me for a long moment, and without changing his expression or saying a word, cranked up his window and continued looking forward.

No one had ever made me feel like a crazy New Yorker until that moment." Nick Katsarelas from the NYtimes Metropolitan Diary, Oct 5th, 08