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DA charges man with manslaughter, DUI, and reckless driving in crash that killed bicycle rider

Posted by on July 2nd, 2019 at 9:58 am

Charging document and probable cause affidavit. (PDF)

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has filed an indictment against Nicholas Martinez, the driver who struck and killed Lance Hart while he rode his bicycle on SE Flavel Street in the early morning hours of June 23rd.

Martinez, who faced a judge at a hearing this morning, is being charged on three counts: Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, and Reckless Driving.

In the probable cause affidavit filed last week, Deputy DA Kelley Rhoades said a witness saw Martinez get into his car at the 7-11 on SE 82nd and Flavel and then leave the parking lot “in an aggressive manner ‘at a high rate of speed'” just prior to the crash. Here’s an excerpt from the affidavit:

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“Martinez told Officer Hunzeker that he was drinking Sprite and Tequila most of the day with his friend and had never drank Tequila before… He reported his speed had gotten up to 30-40 mph and he was looking down to take a bite of his taquito. When he looked up a person with a bicycle was in the middle of the road. Martinez said he applied his brakes, but could not stop and crashed into the bicyclist.”

Hart was riding on a street with no physical separation from auto users or protected space for vulnerable users. He was the 26th person to die on Portland roads so far this year and the second person who was riding a bicycle. We’ve had 27 people die in traffic crashes in 2019.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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21 Comments
  • Avatar
    bikeninja July 2, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Tragic , I hope this drunken, distracted motorists account of what happened puts an end to the media and law enforcement believing the motorized killers when they make excuses. ” I looked up and he was in the middle of the road,” my Keister.

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      Middle of the Road Guy July 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Plus, blaming the taquito.

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        Glenn II July 3, 2019 at 11:36 am

        The frigging taquito. One of those ridiculous and surreal details. If this kid were as famous as OJ Simpson and the trial a similarly dragged-out circus, “the taquito” would be the new “the glove” — the thing late-night comedians would joke about and that you’d remember 25 years from now.

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      Fred July 3, 2019 at 6:57 am

      Sadly, this case will have no effect on the ability of “law abiding” motorists to claim that a cyclist rode out in front of their car and have that claim treated credibly by law enforcement. Look at the cyclist who died recently on 99W, or the cyclist who died on Dirty 30 after a truck driver claimed the cyclist rode in front of his truck. Or the many pedestrians run down in the street. As long as the driver stops and cooperates with law-enforcement and is NOT intoxicated (all three conditions need to be met), the driver is not charged with a crime.

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    Doug Hecker July 2, 2019 at 11:02 am

    We barely have sidewalks in Brentwood Darlington. Chloe has told us that East Co. is the priority. It’s clear that PPB has very little in the form of limiting distracted driving let alone drunk driving. Until those things happen, items like this will continue to happen.

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      tee July 3, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      We will just have to keep waiting, since “East Portland” doesn’t start until East of 82nd Ave. West of 82nd still lacks basic infrastructure in Brentwood, Woodstock, and Mt. Scott-Arleta. Guessing that we will never see it.

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    SilkySlim July 2, 2019 at 11:52 am

    I know curse words aren’t generally allowed on this forum, but there a whole bunch that deserve to be applied to this f’in idiot. Drunk + Distracted + Reckless. Should never drive again.

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      Middle of the Road Guy July 2, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      He’s like Flounder, from Animal House.

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    dirk mcgee July 2, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    I seem to remember other cases similar to this one where the murderer was white and had fewer/less severe charges…

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 3, 2019 at 11:13 am

      I also vaguely remember similar cases where the driver was not white and got fewer/less severe charges.

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      Toby Keith July 3, 2019 at 11:03 pm

      Stop it. No.

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      Dave July 5, 2019 at 7:27 am

      So? At least this driver did get arrested.

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    Frank July 2, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    I personally knew lance , he was a good guy…until heroin took over his life. He did some really messed up stuff, like sell heroin to kids in 2008. I really hope he rests in peace and I hope the kid that killed him gets what’s coming to him. Every life matters and lance used to be my best friend..

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      Mike C July 4, 2019 at 5:16 pm

      ‘He was a really good guy….’ Until he got killed by a drunk driver (who NEVER had tequila before).

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    Todd Boulanger July 2, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    The other critically important point that helped this outcome was the good samaritan witness who came forward to report the driver’s behaviour just prior to the vehicular violence.

    Thank you very much – from all of the “silenced” cyclists and pedestrians killed by motor vehicle operators who are typically the only ones alive to “testify” to police as to “what really happened”.

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    Todd Boulanger July 2, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Also from the account presented here – OLCC should investigate the retailer and staffer for “over service” / selling alcohol to what should be an already intoxicated person [especially a driver].

    This incident if investigated should likely cause the suspension or loss of their liquor license, depending on their past record. (I will assume this is not an automatic investigative trigger based this PPB report but may require someone to file a complaint, see link.)
    https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/docs/publications/complaint_form_eversion.pdf

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      B. Carfree July 3, 2019 at 11:23 am

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for that. My interactions with OLCC have convinced me that you simply cannot have the same agency in charge of regulation and advocacy. The pro-use side of the organization comes to be viewed as the rainmakers and ends up in total control.

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        Todd Boulanger July 3, 2019 at 1:03 pm

        “B.Carfree” – good point. Hopefully this changes as the state implementation of Vision Zero percolates through the deep bureaucracy even those outside of DOTs.

        [As a side note: the “OLCC” of Washington State (WS Liquor and Cannabis Board) has shifted so many internal resources to cannabis that their direct management of bad / poor actors on the liquor side has slacked off at the ground level over the last 3 years…hopefully this corrects itself.]

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    Mark smith July 5, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Just think, if he had not been drinking nor pulled out of 7-11 fast, he totally could have used the taquito argument . It’s a defense thats been accepted by the cops.

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    Jason July 8, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    I was like, “wait, the DA pressed charges against a motorist?!!!”

    Then I saw the name.

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    SilkySlim August 8, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Finally got around to reading the August edition of the Sellwood Bee. It paints a much clearer picture as to why this is being prosecuted as heavily as it is, as more of an assault than an accident. Assault being quite the weak term, I’d call it first degree murder.

    According to the account, Martinez intentionally ran down Hart after somehow taking offense to a request for a cigarette.

    http://www.readthebee.com/morenews.html

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