BikePortland

Both parties admit overreacting in Hummer road rage case


The blue Hummer that led to the suspect.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The two parties involved with a road-rage incident in Northwest Portland back in January now want to put the whole thing behind them.

On the afternoon of January 21, Collin Whitehead was riding his bike when claimed he was “assaulted, threatened with a softball bat and punched in the face” by a man who had been driving a Hummer H2. The incident occurred in broad daylight and the man in the Hummer took off before police arrived.

Whitehead claimed the attack was provoked because he spit from his bike and the alleged assailant thought the spit was intended for his brand new Hummer H2.

The police launched an investigation, and thanks to a tip from a BikePortland reader they found the Hummer in downtown Portland a few days later and were able to track down the suspect.

Now, the two parties have issued a “Mutual Statement” about the incident saying that they both acted “improperly”. The statement (below) was released to me today by lawyer Mark Ginsberg, who was brought in as a mediator in the case:

Mutual Statement concerning events of January 21, 2008

Both parties overreacted. The cyclist improperly expressed his frustration by spitting at a parked Hummer as he rode by. The owner of the Hummer, in frustration, followed the cyclist and initiated a physical altercation.

They mutually agree this is not socially acceptable behavior and both parties expect more of themselves and of the citizens of Portland.

Collin Whitehead, speaking to me by phone this morning, admitted he spit in the direction of the Hummer (“out of frustration” because it was blocking half of a lane) but said he didn’t think it actually landed on the vehicle.

Whitehead also confirmed that as part of the mediation process, the Hummer driver made a nominal payment to Whitehead in addition to an undisclosed amount donated to an environmental non-profit (The Siskiyou Project). According to Whitehead, the Hummer driver agreed to the non-profit donation as long as it wasn’t given to a bike-specific group, so Whitehead gave his payment to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

“I’m very happy this issue was resolved,” said Whitehead, “thanks to the vigilance of the bikeportland.org community and the work above and beyond by Officers Robert Pickett and Dan Andrew at the Portland Police Bureau.”

Whitehead says the PPB officers made it “their personal interest” to find resolution in the case “without fanning the flames of the bike vs. car mentality.”

In the end, Whitehead seems wiser for the experience saying, “As bikers and drivers, many of us are both, we often need to take a step back from our defensive and sometimes militant positions to achieve solutions.”

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