After scary pass and encounter, an attempt to seek justice from video evidence

Posted by on July 14th, 2015 at 11:22 am

womantony2

This woman could be a key witness of a dangerous pass on SE 34th Avenue last week.
(Still from video by Tony Tapay)

“We’ve got to do something about this… This is beyond the pale.”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer

Last week we shared a harrowing video captured via a camera mounted on Portlander Tony Tapay’s bicycle. The video showed a man dangerously passing Tapay as he rode with his young son on the back of his bike on SE 34th Avenue last week. The video captured the type of blatantly dangerous driving behavior that is common on our streets — yet usually goes unnoticed and unpunished.

Tapay hopes to change that.

He’s shown the video to local lawyer Ray Thomas and Tapay is now moving forward with the citizen initiated citation process (that we happened to cover just last month). Tapay hasn’t officially hired Thomas, so at this point Thomas is just helping out with advice.

Thomas told us this morning that if Tapay puts in the work and does the follow-up there’s a good chance he can succeed in issuing a traffic citation to the man in that car. “You can’t make a criminal case in this situation,” Thomas shared, “but you can make a case for careless driving, failure to follow the ‘basic rule’, or an unlawful pass.”

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The first order of business is to build the case. Tapay has excellent video footage (which includes some shots of the driver himself) and the license plate number.

Tapay’s video also includes another crucial piece of the puzzle: a potential witness. In the video a woman is shown riding in the opposite direction just after the man in the car careens by Tapay. If she steps forward she could bolster Tapay’s case and help bring the man in the car to justice.

The next challenge for Tapay will be to positively identify the driver. Thomas said that a sticking point in cases like this is when someone claims — even if their car is located and proven to have been used in the incident — that they weren’t driving at the time it happened.

Please take a good look at the woman in the photo above. If you know her (or if it’s you), please contact us and we’ll forward your information to the right place.

Once Tapay puts all the pieces of his case in order, he can then fill out the proper paperwork with Multnomah County and get a court date where a judge will hear the case.

We’ll continue to cover this as things move forward.

I agree with Thomas when he says, “We’ve got to do something about this. This is beyond the pale.”

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Justin Gast
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Justin Gast

What good is the video if you still need a witness? The video captures everything that needed to be captured, including the act, the car, the motorist’s license plate number, as well as the “who cares” reaction of the driver. With all that, what would this gal provide to the case?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I agree, the camera is your other witness…

you don’t need a witness when you have a camera…

maybe he needs a witness for the Careless Driving charge?

or is more just better in these cases?

John Lascurettes
Guest

I believe what their after is a positive ID of the driver, which was not caught on video. Tapay may be able to testify that the driver is who he say he is, but the driver can just deny it. He said, he said. If he had a witness to corroborate that it is indeed the driver you’ve got 2 against 1.

John Lascurettes
Guest

* “what they’re after”

JRB
Guest
JRB

Video or photographic evidence is only admissible if the person proffering the evidence provides a foundation for it. Typically only after the videographer/photographer has testified under oath that the photo/video is an accurate depiction of what they personally witnessed will it be admitted into evidence. The ability to alter photos and videos has existed for a long time, which is why courts have long required foundation. In the case of a red light cam or similar, I suspect that if ticket was contested, the operator would have to present evidence that the camera was functionally properly and that the images could not have been tampered with before it would be deemed admissible. As for the value of additional witness, 1) you can never have too much evidence, 2) Tony Tapay exhibits some (understandable) hostility) towards the driver in the video and a defendant could argue that his recollections are biased by that. The woman riding by has no such baggage and could be deemed a more credible witness.

Jeff Graham
Guest

I’m curious why the following aren’t also venues for prosecution/citation?

* Menacing: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/163.190
* Recklessly endangering another person : http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/163.195

Those two are what I would like to see driver’s cited for, we need a cultural change for people to realize that ~30,000 related auto deaths per year is unacceptable.

Alan Kessler
Guest
Alan Kessler

The practical answer is that you would have to get a police officer and/or a prosecutor to care about bicyclists. There’s no citizen-initiated criminal prosecution statute; we can only pursue certain violations on our own.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

ORS 153.058

A person other than an enforcement officer may commence a violation proceeding under this section only for:
(b) Traffic violations under ORS chapters 801 to 826, or any violation of rules adopted pursuant to those chapters if the violation constitutes an offense;

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/153.058

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

Endangering a minor, too.

Patrick Barber
Guest

It’s too bad we can’t afford to hire some kind of government worker to monitor the way people use automobiles, and enforce our traffic laws. This seems like a lot of work to issue a traffic citation.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Actually a better alternative future might be…someday soon I expect…we will have the private sector to do this through technology in order to keep car insurance payments down (its not a profitable business model …if your clients drive horribly/ dangerously AND start losing court cases with large settlements, etc.

Though we still have a long road ahead with educating “drivers as jurors” as to bicyclists rights to the road/ vision zero benefits etc. and each “handlebar cam” video of a poor driver helps with this task.

Cory P
Guest
Cory P

I would imagine that the self driving car revolution will take care of this. Once they are widely available the only people who will insist on driving themselves will be the ones that drive recklessly. Insurance rates for these folks will skyrocket.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

and those driving themselves will be on video from all the self-driving cars around them… hopefully, unless privacy freaks get in the way…

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Actually, I suspect that the insurance companies make plenty, perhaps even more on “bad” drivers than they do good ones. Especially the ones that are required to pay SR-22 payments.

I know a few years ago I switched companies because “supposedly” (manual trans. in gear/parking brake on) my truck rolled into another “parked” car. My insurance company settled for $1500 (parking lots btw are no fault) on a car if worth that- was barely worth that (a very beat up mid 80’s Honda).

I’ve been with that insurance company (no citations other than 2 seatbelt violation) for about a decade and surprised to see my next bill came in at more twice what it was before. Their ROI on that $1500 would have been one year, and my rates wouldn’t have gone down much for nearly five years after that.

I switched companies that afternoon.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I once had an insurance company drop me because people kept merging into the rear of my car…

this was right after they offered to defend me in court against one of the drivers that threatened to sue…

nobody ever got a citation and they were all considered no-fault…

so where you drive and who runs into you is as important as how you drive and who you run into…

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“…in order to keep car insurance payments down…”

One proven way in which car insurance payments can be kept to a minimum is to not carry insurance, which is what an estimated 9% of Oregon drivers currently (well, in 2012) do (16% in Washington).

Michael
Guest
Michael

It might help if you reminded everyone of the time, and date when this occurred. You mention 34th, but a more precise location would help too.

While i didn’t have a video – I had a close call on SE 12th/Sandy just south of burnside when a truck driver from Oak Harbor Freight company crossed into the bike lane as it traveled through that curve – about three weeks ago. I wrote to Oak Harbor and got no response. I also wrote to BikePortland, and got no response. I understand that BikePortland can’t respond to every email, but it would be good to out people and companies that show such blatant disregard for traffic laws and the safety of the population.

dan
Guest
dan

I toured down the coast a number of years ago, and I have to say that professional drivers in general, and Oak Harbor trucks in particular were by far the most courteous and safest vehicles that passed me. I biked by the Oak Harbor HQ on my way up to Seattle one time, and dropped in to thank them in person.

The plural of anecdotes is not data, but still…definitely not ready to write off Oak Harbor as uniformly hazardous drivers.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I’m not suggesting that the whole company be written off. It was one bad driver. That said, their lack of a response to my letter shows that they didn’t take my concerns seriously, and does show that to some extent that dangerous driving is tolerated within the company.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I have only been on a jury once for about 15 minutes. As soon as the defense attorney found out I was a cyclist, I was dismissed. It was a cyclist injury by a motorist case.

LC
Guest
LC

Which makes about as much sense as dismissing someone from a jury for a stabbing case because they’re a chef..

PNP
Guest
PNP

I had a similar experience many years ago. Also a cyclist v. motorist case. When they found out that I’m a cyclist and an attorney, they couldn’t show me the door fast enough. Too bad; I would have liked to know the outcome.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Yes! Me too. I never heard a word on what happened in the trial. I was called for jury duty 8 times after that but never even asked a question and never got as far as the jury box.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

by that measure it seems like everyone who drives should’ve been dismissed by the jury as well.

esther2
Guest
esther2

Could the complaintant dismiss all the drivers?

Al Dimond
Guest

In jury selection either side can dismiss an unlimited number of jurors “for cause” (IIRC both sides have to agree, or the judge has to agree, that a juror would not be able to follow the instructions and decide the case according to the laws of the state and the evidence presented). Simply being a cyclist, or being a driver, would not be sufficient to be dismissed for cause. Each side can also dismiss jurors just because they don’t like them, but only a limited number; with today’s numbers the driver’s side can easily eliminate all the cyclist-jurors far before the cyclist’s side can eliminate all the driver-jurors.

Therefore there ain’t but one way about it: we must establish a mass cycling culture to get justice in the courts.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

If only the US Constitution had something in it about “equal protection” and “jury of your peers”.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

if everybody on the jury in a case against me is not at least a part-time cyclist then it’s not a jury of my peers…

Justin Gast
Guest
Justin Gast

John Lascurettes
I believe what their after is a positive ID of the driver, which was not caught on video. Tapay may be able to testify that the driver is who he say he is, but the driver can just deny it. He said, he said. If he had a witness to corroborate that it is indeed the driver you’ve got 2 against 1.Recommended 0

But you have the vehicle make and license plate number. Isn’t that enough to identify the individual?

I can’t imagine the cyclist got a clear description of the driver as he passed her at about 20+ MPH going in the opposite direction.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“But you have the vehicle make and license plate number. Isn’t that enough to identify the individual?”

You could probably find out the registered owner of the vehicle, but maybe the driver at the time was their cousin who borrowed the car for a few minutes.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

which is why we need to make drivers responsible for their vehicles… if it wasn’t stolen then you are responsible unless you get somebody to fess up to being the driver…

why is this not a law yet?

right now you can drive around wearing a ski mask (or full face helmet) and be immune to citizen citations and automated red-light/speed cameras…

Dan
Guest
Dan

Right, we are able to do this for parking tickets and toll roads. Why not other things?

Prune Tracy
Guest
Prune Tracy

You can make out the driver in the video. What’s the issue?

John Lascurettes
Guest

No, I can’t. I challenge you to get a screenshot where you could get a recognizable view of that person’s face. You only ever see it:
– Under a hat
– less than profile view
– Through a rolled up window with reflections

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

I don’t know if the photo tracks better as a video; but can you make out the brand of the female figure’s bike?

I know that I might not pay attention to an article if it said “looking for a women to ask for details in hit & run” or whatever – but if they mentioned “looking for woman that rides a purple specialized” or whatever it is… that might bring my attention more if I rode that bike.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

One may need to reach out to a smaller subset of bike riders in Portland vs. women in general…the skirted bike rider may be a man (cross dresser) or a transgender individual. Take a look, as I may be mistaken.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Chances are good that she’s a regular commuter on that route. Stake out that same block for a few hours around the time of the incident and she’s likely to ride by again.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

I’m a couple of days late to this conversation, but doesn’t the downtube look like it might say Raleigh?

If you squint your eyes and look at this:comment image

?

Captain Karma
Guest

This looks like the same vehicle that last week sped very aggressively, using the bike lane to pass me and a line of cars waiting on a light on outer sandy. It happened too fast and out of the blue to get plate number. It was crazy. Or maybe “carzy”.

peter haas
Guest
peter haas

When I first saw the above mentioned video, I felt like the woman on the bike was placed in a lot of danger…she was caught in a very tight position between that tall blue van and the passing vehicle zipping head on towards her as it bounced across the speed bump. Very lucky she wasn’t hit. I hope she comes forward.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Time for another enforcement action at Ladd’s Addition. All these pesky cyclists demanding protection and expecting PPB to do their jobs. What the h? /sarcasm/

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

See this helmet-cam clip (warning, physical violence) from two days ago in Calif. If it weren’t for the helmet cam, this would be a case of one person’s word against another, and a violent assault would likely be let go.

Cameras, people. Cameras.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

My error – Yuma, AZ (I thought they said Yuba)

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow
Dan M.
Guest
Dan M.

Which underscores the benefit of knowing how to defend yourself. The road can be a scary place for a person without locked doors to give yourself some space. Knowing how to take someone down, put them in a choke hold or an arm bar is valuable. Hopefully no one will have to use it, but it’s way better than a gun.

It might sound meat headed and belligerent, but cars intimidate me. Once someone steps out of the car, I’m not intimidated.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

None too soon…I just got my RidEye Bike Cam in the mail yesterday…after supporting their Kickstarter 18 months ago. So far seems to work well…I hope I never need it though.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

A citizen initiated citation is not the answer. If it was then tickets “assuming police still give them” would already be addressing this issue in terms of getting the mass to drive better. But the fact is even after getting speeding tickets people still speed.

I feel citizen initiated citations cost me more in time to push then it costs the person who is being served the citation, thus this is not a sustainable model. Now not only do I have to put up with shit drivers now I also have to enforce the laws too? Don’t my tax dollars already go in the pockets of the people who should be enforcing the current laws?

Until the city “The official agency heads and the police” start holding people acceptable by means of increasing the risk vs reward people are gonna take gamble risk because the reward almost is always worth it to them because there is none in terms of accountability.

A smart hit man would use a car to commit a homicide. With little effort it would look no different than what already happens everyday on our roads. Hell chances are you would be better letting your self get caught because the police would let you go probably with in an hour of the crime.

But back to the point, I film people every day. Hell today I had a guy in a jeep drive agro past a large number of people and with in 3 feet of me. He would rather argue his virtue and right to be there than respect me as a human. I cant change that frame of mind and if the police wont then I really have no recourse no matter how much time I spend trying to send the guy to court then will be the next jeep waiting for me.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

oh man so many typos 🙁 I fail at life.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Can’t the driver’s voice be used to help identify him?

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

…only if there was an Apple App that used Siri to search out a voice…kinda like the song searcher…but then again it may exist for govt use only.

9watts
Guest
9watts

You’re assuming the driver/owner of the car isn’t right there in front of the officer. I am assuming that the guy driving like that is the owner of the car. If that is a reasonable assumption, and the officer has the video in hand and is standing in front of this guy, and he asks him if he is this person (saying whatever rude thing he said in response to Tony’s ‘was that worth it? question once he caught up with him), he’s going to answer in his voice (presumably). No need for Siri.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Look at the photo again. The cyclist doesn’t look concerned about the car that just passed. She is riding on the shadow of an electrical wire. The car is about 3 feet from that shadow. Based on just this one photo it appears that the car gave her enough room. I did see the video and it looked worse in motion but here’s something I noticed about the video: the cyclists speed seemed high – like he was really cruising along – it seemed faster than normal. Perhaps the video cam lens is a wide angle lens and makes moving objects appear faster than they are. Just a thought.

Oh, and FYI, mini ice age is coming in 2030:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150709092955.htm

Dan
Guest
Dan

One can only wonder at the financial motives of the scientists involved in this fear-mongering study.

soren
Guest
soren

no fear mongering by the mathematician. the preprint does not even mention an ice age. the media reports about the unpublished modeling study are bald-faced lies.

soren
Guest
Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Yeah, the WaPo is where I’m gonna get my scientific information. NOT. 🙂

To date there has been very little warming – it will take very little cooling to overpower any warming that may occur in the next 15 years.

The recent 80 years or so of “warming” are nothing but fuzz on the overall 800,000 year earth cycle.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record#/media/File:EPICA_temperature_plot.svg

soren
Guest
soren

but apparently wikipedia is ok…

Dan
Guest
Dan
Dan
Guest
Dan

/sarcasm

9watts
Guest
9watts

Or why there is no mention of the interaction of what we know is proceeding apace: climate change with this phenomenon. The silence speaks volumes.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

The article mentioned the ‘Maunder minimum’. Scientists studying climate change know that this coincides with lower temperatures. Thus the title about a “mini ice age”.

4th paragraph:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_Minimum

😉

Opus the Poet
Guest

This correlates to stuff I was reading as a kid that said according to the paleontological record we should be approaching a new ice age (late ’60s and early ’70s) but we weren’t, what was going one?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I haven’t watched the video, yet. I may. I’m wondering if there will be enough info on it for someone to legitimately issue a citation for say, ‘Careless Driving’. There are plenty of dangerous and scary situations on the street occurring between encounters of people driving and people biking. Of the objectionable actions of the people involved, how many might be grounds for a citation?

Within the last couple days, in comments to a different bikeportland story, we talked about Oregon law that allows people driving motor vehicles to pass closer than 3′ from people riding bikes, as long as the motor vehicle speed is less than 35mph. How many people riding or biking, seriously consider a motor vehicle traveling 34 mph, to be a safe distance from people on bikes, say…2′ away? Should the driving style of people bringing their vehicle that close to bikes at such speeds, be considered dangerous driving, illegal by Oregon law, ‘Careless Driving’ or ‘Reckless Driving’?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

The law in oregon is not 3 feet, the law is that the passing vehicle must leave enough space if they are travelling at over 35 mph so that they will not hit a cyclist if they fall over into the road. The 35 mph stipulation was a concession to tri-met, the original proposal did not include that provision.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Bjorn…thanks. Here’s a link to a text of the law:

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.065

Fact remains that Oregon’s law allows people driving motor vehicles at a speed of 35 mph and under, to legally pass people at a distance that’s less than the rule of thumb for safe distance as specified in that law…which could include distances less than 3′ from someone on a bike.

There are circumstances where this may be safe, circumstances where it wouldn’t be safe. It probably would be a good idea if people were to give thought to what those various circumstances might be.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

1) Has anyone heard of a driver who has been cited for 811.065 (unsafe passing of cyclist) without making contact with the rider?

2) Can the law still be applied if the driver is completely within the car lane and the cyclist is completely within the bike lane?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Can the law still be applied if the driver is completely within the car lane and the cyclist is completely within the bike lane?”

No. IANAL, but if I parse the wording correctly, the law does not even apply if a bicyclist is outside the bike lane—which many legitimate exceptions allow—and a driver is going faster than 35. The mere presence of a bike lane, whether or not there are cyclists in it or out of it, exempts drivers from any safe passing requirements.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Dead Salmon: “it seemed faster than normal.”

I’m curious, how fast is ‘normal’ for a bicyclist? What’s your guess at how fast Tony was able to ride while carrying a child on the back of a longtail?

As an aside, wasn’t it you who called me a “moro n” for posting something that you deemed irrelevant to the “topic under consideration”? I don’t see how an ice age relates to this, so maybe I am.

http://bikeportland.org/2015/07/09/dangerous-high-speed-pass-neighborhood-street-caught-camera-147827#comment-6462410

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Sorry about your but t hurt.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

You mad, bro?

Pete
Guest
Pete

I don’t mind – it only hurts from riding.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I’m amazed at how much more often this kind of stuff happens than, say, two year’s ago. I live in Bend, and almost all of my riding on rural two lane highways. At least four times in the past month, oncoming drivers have passed another car, when I have a 1′ or no paved shoulder. They are travelling 60+ mph and we have maybe a 4′ buffer between me and them (if they stay as far away from me as they can). Last week, at precisely the moment they went by, there was a large branch completely blocking my shoulder and I had to slam on my brakes. This kind of thing used to happen once or twice a year….there is something about drivers being in too much of a hurry these days and disregarding the terror that we cyclists experience. I actually followed an equipment truck who did this to me and caught him at a stop. I kept reasonably calm, and asked him why he did that, and he was totally sorry, said he was a cyclist too, and didn’t know what he was thinking. We shook hands, but I am so nervous these days.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Tonight, with someone else alongside, I watched the video a number of times,. Didn’t listen to the audio. Hard to tell simply by
viewing, how close the passing vehicle was to the bike, though people with some forensic skills and tools, from analyzing the video, could possibly figure out to a fraction of an inch, how close the vehicle was, and how fast it was going.

Vehicle’s speed appears to be over 20 or 25 mph, at least. An easy, rough guess is that it’s going way too fast for a neighborhood street. May be going faster than 35 mph, the speed specified in ‘Unsafe passing of person operating bicycle’:

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.065

…over which, people driving are obliged to pass no closer from people on bikes than would be sufficient if the person riding were to fall over…into the driver’s lane of traffic (this last bit is important to situations other than this one, because the required passing distance doesn’t apply if the person riding is in a bike lane.).

Pete
Guest
Pete

Look at 00:06. The van doors are less than 6′ tall, and with the sun at that angle let’s guess that its shadow on the street is ~6′. Tony looks approximately centered as he passes through that shadow. I’m gonna guess the car passes ~4′ from the center of that shadow, and thus about 4′ from the center of Tony’s motion. The edge of Tony’s handlebar is probably ~9″ from the center of his bike.

Just some rough guesstimates.