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Reader: I was harassed by a truck driver and police won’t take it seriously

Posted by on February 11th, 2020 at 11:34 am

The message below came to us from a reader via Facebook. I’m sharing it here with permission from the victim.

(Photo by the victim’s spouse.)

Today, Feb 8, 2020, my spouse and I were returning from a ride along the esplanade. I’m a bit slow because I’m recovering from a full hysterectomy and appendectomy. My husband was waiting for me along the curb headed north on N. Williams just after Broadway.

As I was crossing N. Broadway (during green light in bike lane), a Dodge Ram 2500 began to approach me with driver revving the engine billowing black smoke and squealing the wheels. At one point his truck stopped next to me and the white male driver stepped on the gas pedal with his brakes on and started fish-tailing until the backend of his truck almost hit me. It was terrifying.

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“I’m concerned that these complaints won’t be taken seriously by the City until someone is killed.”

Although he was panicked, my husband was able to get a picture of the truck and a witness got the license plate number (it was from Washington). I immediately called 911 to report the incident. Once we returned home, I called the non-emergency line and explained that I wanted to file charges for reckless endangerment. The officer assigned to me said that they were initially unable to respond because a large portion of police resources were assigned to the KKK protest at the courthouse. I asked if I would receive a follow up call from PPB [Portland Police Bureau]. He said that unless I could describe what the man looked like, a case wouldn’t holdup with the DA. He also said that detectives go to Washington state for serious offenses only. The officer advised that if for some reason the plate number is pulled in the system, law enforcement would see my complaint.

I’m concerned that these complaints won’t be taken seriously by the City until someone is killed.

When I asked this person if I could share their story here, she said:

Yes, please do use my story on your site. It’s incredibly frustrating and perhaps we’ll learn through user comments if this is happening to others and what their experience was after reporting the event to the Portland Police Bureau.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Dan
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Dan

Isn’t it interesting how schoolyard bullies get older but never grow up?

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix

Are you referring to the guy in the truck or the guy on the phone?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Huh??? Are you seriously insinuating that the guy who took the photo with his phone was acting as a bully in this scenario? While I’ll admit we only have one side of the story here, come on…

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Oh wait, or do you mean the dispatcher? Cuz that changes the intent. Sorry, I get used to people trolling articles like this trying to make it seem like the vulnerable users were being all intimidating to the large, heavy metal boxes on wheels.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

hmmm… seems my additional reply was moderated for some reason? basically, i realize i probably misunderstood what you were saying, sorry. i’m tired today…

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

I’m sorry to hear about your experience. That whole area of Broadway/Weidler around I-5 is a deeply toxic and hostile environment for people on bikes. If my workplace weren’t right there, I’d never go near it.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I’ve seen so many close calls at that intersection. It’s just NOT good.

clever_name
Guest
clever_name

I’m so sorry that this happened to this person; sounds terrifying. Hopefully they’re recovering okay.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

It’s the Law of Inverse Proportions : The bigger the tires on the pickup, the smaller the dick on the driver.

jd
Guest
jd

Is body shaming really the right decision here?

PTB
Guest
PTB

Please.

mh
Subscriber

Say “… the smaller the brain,” if you can manage to not consider that body shaming. Learn to read metaphor, not everything needs to be taken literally.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Metaphors can still be unhelpful and damaging, I think we should all move on from this one, there are better ways to make the point. Surprised this one is still given a pass on this site.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And shame the intellectually challenged?

(I totally agree with your “not every comment” remark… I wish more people would consider context and proportion before turning their outragometer up to 11.)

xfs
Guest
xfs

Hello, Kitty
And shame the intellectually challenged?(I totally agree with your “not every comment” remark… I wish more people would consider context and proportion before turning their outragometer up to 11.)Recommended 2

tone police back again

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

I think we can grant an exception in this case.

Jason
Guest
Jason

PPB assumes all cyclists are scofflaws. Change my mind.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Anyone put two and two together yet? (KKK rally anticipated downtown, driver of monster truck with WA plates acting out not far across the river… just sayin’)

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Except those behaviors happen all the time. I imagine not every KKK member drives a big-ass truck.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Aw, I’m sorry, “Middle”; what do _you_ drive?

Seriously though, please link to something documenting that monster-truck drivers with WA plates act out like this “all the time,” including Saturday mornings near the Esplanade — as opposed to, say, during weekday peak commute hours on Interstate.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

a 10 year old Mazda3.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

With all the anecdotes of PPB non-enforcement, would this be a good time to for a post on how to do citizen citations, like this guy did?

https://bikeportland.org/2015/04/10/man-issues-citizen-citation-police-decline-investigate-red-light-collision-139201

SD
Guest
SD

This message from the PPB sounds like an endorsement of vigilantism.

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

I learned long ago, and more people are learning everyday, that Portland Police will do nothing if you’re a victim of a fairly minor crime. Even if you’re in possession of proof of the incident. It may seem like a big deal to the victim, but it’s just too minor for the Portland Police to be bothered with. This effectively legalizes many crimes that are really horrific to the victims, just like this incident. I’ve had conversations with Portland police officers who’ve literally told me after I’d been victimized, “Look, I’m about to retire, if I had to do it over I would have been a criminal.” #Sad

9watts
Subscriber

But don’t let them get away with telling you it is about money.
It is not. It is about priorities.
Our cops are too busy harassing the homeless to bother with this sort of thing:
https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2018/06/portland_homeless_accounted_fo.html

Adam
Guest
Adam

Arrested for “trespassing, stealing and disorderly conduct, public drinking and now meth.” It might be worth considering that a particular group of people get arrested more because they are creating more crimes. I live and work near homeless communities and truly desire to see these people find their way. However, it would be obtuse to pretend that they are not currently a driving source of crime.

9watts
Subscriber

Um, that is one interpretation of what is going on.
But other homeless, or mentally ill people who are unarmed, hurting no one, are still shot and killed by our cops in broad daylight. That takes considerable police resources before, during, and after, and doesn’t make our community safer.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Um, that is one interpretation of what is going on.

Evan
Guest
Evan

I’ve had to kick three homeless people out of my Bike Shop TODAY. Two for trying to steal tools and one for Yelling racial slurs. I can’t get the cops to help with them harassing me when I call. Where can I find these cops?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

They need those tools to work on their multiple bikes.

dan
Guest
dan

Like the 2nd Amendment guys like to say, if you call 911 and say “there’s someone prowling in my backyard,” at best a patrol car will drive by in a few hours. If you call 911 and say “there’s someone prowling in my backyard and I’m going to shoot them,” you get every cop in a 5 mile radius in minutes.

I get that the force is stretched thin and needs to triage, but turning a blind eye to things that don’t end in injuries/fatalities only encourages escalation.

The Last Voyageur
Guest
The Last Voyageur

It doesn’t sound like “assault” as defined by Oregon law:

163.175 Assault in the second degree. (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if the person:
(a) Intentionally or knowingly causes serious physical injury to another;
(b) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon; or
(c) Recklessly causes serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
(2) Assault in the second degree is a Class B felony. [1971 c.743 §93; 1975 c.626 §1; 1977 c.297 §2; 2005 c.22 §110]

163.185 Assault in the first degree. (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if the person:
(a) Intentionally causes serious physical injury to another by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon;
(b) Intentionally or knowingly causes serious physical injury to a child under six years of age;
(c) Violates ORS 163.175 knowing that the victim is pregnant; or
(d) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes serious physical injury to another while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants in violation of ORS 813.010 and:
(A) The person has at least three previous convictions for driving while under the influence of intoxicants under ORS 813.010, or its statutory counterpart in any jurisdiction, in the 10 years prior to the date of the current offense; or
(B)(i) The person has a previous conviction for any of the crimes described in subsection (2) of this section, or their statutory counterparts in any jurisdiction; and
(ii) The victim’s death or serious physical injury in the previous conviction was caused by the person driving a motor vehicle.
(2) The previous convictions to which subsection (1)(d)(B) of this section apply are:
(a) Manslaughter in the first degree under ORS 163.118;
(b) Manslaughter in the second degree under ORS 163.125;
(c) Criminally negligent homicide under ORS 163.145;
(d) Assault in the first degree under this section;
(e) Assault in the second degree under ORS 163.175; or
(f) Assault in the third degree under ORS 163.165.
(3) Assault in the first degree is a Class A felony.
(4) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection (1)(d)(B) of this section that the defendant was not under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the conduct that resulted in the previous conviction. [1971 c.743 §94; 1975 c.626 §2; 1977 c.297 §1; 2005 c.513 §1; 2007 c.867 §3; 2009 c.785 §2]

eb
Guest
eb

Evidently it’s not assault unless the victim is actually (physically) injured. I had a similar experience in Washington County … charges could include unlawful use of a weapon (a felony), reckless endangering, reckless driving and menacing.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

I see the main problem with the law being that you have to see the driver and ID them instead of holding the owner of the weapon vehicle responsible. We have gun laws that hold the owner responsible so I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same thing for vehicles. If your vehicle is used while breaking the law then you should be held responsible unless another person comes forward to admit that they were driving.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Bad comment nesting still not fixed.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

That would be preferable something like the UK law where you are fined for failing to nominate the driver. They also accept video evidence of traffic violations which would be quite nice to have here too. I’d get several cameras for my bike if we had those laws. The likelihood of us passing those laws however is quite slim.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Can you cite to a law where somebody is held criminal liable simply because someone else used their gun to commit a crime? Whether somebody can be held criminally or civilly liable because somebody else used their property, such as a motor vehicle, in causing harm to another is going to be determined by the specific facts of each case and I don’t think we would want it any different.

The Last Voyageur
Guest
The Last Voyageur

But how about this?

163.195 Recklessly endangering another person. (1) A person commits the crime of recklessly endangering another person if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.
(2) Recklessly endangering another person is a Class A misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §96]

The Last Voyageur
Guest
The Last Voyageur

Or this?

163.190 Menacing. (1) A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.
(2) Menacing is a Class A misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §95]

Fred
Guest
Fred

PPB *really* won’t go after menacing. A PPB officer once told me, “They’re just words.”

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Under Oregon law the driver of the pickup is clearly guilty of Menacing. If the fishtailing of their truck caused it to slide near or next to the cyclist, then you can add Reckless Endangerment.

But my experience is that unless either (1) someone actually gets injured or killed, or (2) a cop actually witnesses it, it’s tough to get them to act.

Dropped
Guest
Dropped

It sucked that this happened. That driver is clearly an a$$. But it is not surprising that someone driving like a dick isn’t going to get much attention from an understaffed major city police force. This probably doesn’t make any officer’s top 50 biggest issues on any given shift. Contrary to what many Bikeportland readers may think, being a police officer is not an easy job. They have to deal with some heavy stuff every day. In a perfect world, something would be done, but this ain’t a perfect world.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

A number of years ago I served on the Grand Jury for Multnomah County. It really was eye opening to hear what cops go through (and to see what crimes people commit).

It gave me a lot more respect for them.

The Last Voyageur
Guest
The Last Voyageur

So we should be ok with a crime not being investigated because being a cop is hard? You’re just supposed to accept being placed in fear for your life because the law can’t help you? You’re the enemy, buddy. Someday perhaps you will learn that when the law gives people no peaceful recourse, they take the law into their own hands. That’s what it’s for. Stop making excuses and get real.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

The PPB are currently engaged ina major effot to hunt for people that did some graffiti during the anti-KKK rally. What was alleged here was an imminent threat of serious physical harm. Tell me again about that top 50 list.

SD
Guest
SD

Graffiti on a war memorial gets a tweet from the mayor and immediate action. Traffic violence or assault that are more predictive of future violent acts get a shrug.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Can we just close down all the bridges to Washington yet? It would solve the traffic congestion problems on I5 much better than the Rose Quarter project at much less cost, head off the next KKK, or Proud Boys Rally and keep dangerous traffic criminals off the roads in our state.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

If only Portland companies would stop hiring people from WA.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Ok, you win, we should keep a part of one bridge with pedestrian and cycling lanes so those from Washington can get to jobs in Oregon.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I’ve heard that same rationale for a border wall with Mexico.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Just as someone waving a gun or knife around, a person using a heavy block of metal should have the immediate and full attention of the police. We will know we are living in a place that prioritizes safety when the police respond to knives, guns and cars in the exact same manner.

9watts
Subscriber

In this town, if someone *claims* a person is wielding a knife that can sometimes be enough for the cops to shoot and kill the person (who—-it turns out later—-was not wielding a weapon at all). Oops.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

I haven’t had an interaction like this with a driver in Portland in 4 years or so. Mostly it’s just dangerous driving that’s probably more clueless than malicious. Sorry this happened to you I’ve been there a few times and it can be terrifying.

JRB
Guest
JRB

People harm each other all the time without malicious intent and we let the civil court system sort that out. Hit and run, or more properly failing to perform the duties of a driver, is a crime and should be treated as such.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Time for another stop sign enforcement action in Ladd’s Addition. Oh, wait. Bicyclists can now (as of January 1) roll through the stop signs. I guess there’s nothing that can be done to demonstrate the importance of enforcing laws by cracking down on cyclists.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Why would cracking down on cyclists demonstrate the importance of enforcing laws?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

J_R was being sarcastic, unless I totally missed it. It’s like when cops in NY respond to cyclist deaths by cracking down on cyclists.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Gotcha, knew you were trolling, just didn’t know what side of the bridge you were from. 😉

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Because if only cyclists would obey the law, they wouldn’t get themselves into these situations…right?

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

I had a large white pickup truck do a very similar thing to me on my way into work last summer on N Vancouver- the driver revved, swerved, and shot black smoke at a line of bike riders while going past the hospital. I was so shaken up I pulled over and cried at Breadwinner (they gave me a free cup of coffee while I calmed down). It truly was scary, and I’m really sorry this behavior continues to happen on our streets.

Gene Johnson
Guest
Gene Johnson

A truck crossed into the bike lane to follow me very closely the day after the 2016 election. Never had that happen until then.

bikeshoe
Guest
bikeshoe

There is no excuse for this kind of driving behavior.
I think you did the right thing by getting the license plate and calling it in.
“The officer advised that if for some reason the plate number is pulled in the system, law enforcement would see my complaint.” – This is a real thing.

Driver’s like that often have a stack of complaints and/or other outstanding warrants, tickets and other issues. (to say the least). When they are checked on the computer for whatever reason, and your complaint comes up, officers have every reason to take it more seriously as it’s not just a one time thing. It will help the next person who is subject to this kind of abuse.

I would consider contact police in Washington, start with Vancouver. Explore lodging a complaint wherever that license plate is from.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Man, it’s almost always trucks with WA tags.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Silver lining: this is a clear example of why a registration/license plate program for cyclists is useless. The main thing I hear proponents of it say is, “cyclists need license plates so they can be held accountable when they break the law.” To which I normally respond, “unless a cop personally sees it they’re unlikely to do anything about it.” Case in point… (assuming a cop would have actually done something had they witnessed this)

This truck also looks like one I had an encounter with several months back. I was actually driving home that day, and was headed east on Division. The guy didn’t like that I stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk (quite nearly hit me when I stopped) or that I was still driving at the 30 mph limit when we weren’t in the vicinity of the speed cameras. He honked, acted like he was going to drive into the back of me, then accelerated hard and passed me in the median. Think that truck had an Oregon plate, though.

Betsy Reese
Guest
Betsy Reese

Me too. A truck moved close and rolled coal on me on my bike at this exact same location a couple of years ago. It is so scary and disturbing to be suddenly engulfed in a cloud of dense black sooty exhaust fumes. The fishtailing must have been terrifying.

I also identify with your perception that the driver may have been judging your recently-post-surgery slower speed. When a driver (or another cyclist – that’s happened to me a few times, too) determines by someone’s outer appearance that they are physically capable of going faster and so try to punish them for their apparent self-entitled slowness, it is an expression of ableism.

I hope this incident has not made you too scared to keep riding your bike.

Catie
Guest
Catie

I would recommend the author of this reach out to the Vision Zero taskforce and possible get it on the agenda at a meeting. There were possibly security cameras or other witnesses in the area that could have confirmed these events. Portland police officers should not be dissuading people from filing charges about aggressive drivers.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Very sorry to hear this happened to you. I witnessed a large truck a few years ago “roll coal” on two pedestrians and later two cyclists. Sadly, it’s what angry rednecks like doing when driving their pickups. It’s thrill for them to harm others (breathing in exhaust as they “dump diesel”). I talked with a police officer about it. There’s not much they can do unless they witness it. However, if they run afoul of the law, that does show up. Anytime you can pedal away without injury is a good day. Some days are just better than others.

David Hampsten
Guest

While I note the Feds specifically ban rolling coal from diesel trucks, very few states have passed legislation to enforce that ban. NC did so in 2016 and I’ve since seen far fewer trucks doing it, so presumably the police and highway patrol are enforcing the ban more readily here. Most of the “roll coal” trucks I now see have Virginia plates rather than NC.

Does either Oregon or Washington have specific legislation on such bans and enforcement?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Had a landscaping truck roll coal on me last year in Hillsboro. It’s a free-for-all-losers situation out there.

Mike C
Guest

Dodge Ram?
Lifted?
WA plates?

100% guilty.

z
Guest
z

Knew as soon as I saw the photo of the truck it had WA plates.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

I see the main problem with the law being that you have to see the driver and ID them instead of holding the owner of the weapon vehicle responsible. We have gun laws that hold the owner responsible so I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same thing for vehicles. If your vehicle is used while breaking the law then you should be held responsible unless another person comes forward to admit that they were driving.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If I borrow a gun from you and shoot someone, you are held criminally liable if you don’t tell the police who had the gun?

With a car, if another driver injures someone with your car, your insurance pays the bill. So, from a civil standpoint, the car owner is already responsible.

Joe Fortino
Guest
Joe Fortino

oh Portland 🙁 glad ur ok its total madness these days. maybe because city doesn’t care.

JRB
Guest
JRB

If she can’t identify the driver, who are the police supposed to arrest?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Um David dahlen or Dalen can’t remember the spelling might be the guy he likes driving that kind of truck has multiple felonies and just got out of jail for nearly killing someone with that exact same model, also his son same name drives the same vehicles he steals and just recently stole my mother’s vehicle. Both licenses are permanently revoked and use their friends and relatives addresses in Washington to get a registered license plate. I’m not saying these two could be related but knowing them personally it’s a good possibility both are stupid as stupid could be and are both known for doing the exact same thing. Good luck I hope you get this idiot off the streets David sr cousin ran me off the street completely high off meth and the entire family is still selling drugs and stealing vehicles. No joke police don’t care.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

It’s unfortunate but this is the reason that I carried a firearm in Portland legally every day.