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Alleged auto violence perpetrator Paul Rivas pleads ‘not guilty’ to all charges

Posted by on January 28th, 2021 at 8:15 am

Rivas admitted he was driving this silver Honda SUV.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Who could do something like this? And why?

Those are the questions many people asked themselves following the mass weaponized driving incident that left one person dead and many others injured on Monday, January 25th.

Three days later, a picture of the man who perpetrated this violence is beginning to emerge.

64-year-old Paul Rivas made his first appearance in court on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to all 14 felony counts against him. (Note: It is standard practice for a defendant to plead not guilty at arraignments.)

The Multnomah County District Attorney has charged Rivas with murder in the second degree, seven counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver and six counts of assault in the second degree. “It is alleged that Rivas used his vehicle as a dangerous weapon to cause the death of Ms. [Jean] Gerich and to cause physical injury to at least six other people,” the DA’s office wrote in a statement yesterday.

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Rivas is alleged to have been behind the wheel of the silver Honda Element SUV when he decided to go on a murderous rampage that covered dozens of city blocks — from 15th to 33rd and Belmont to Stark — leaving shock and horror in his wake throughout the Laurelhurst and Buckman neighborhoods of inner southeast Portland.

The DA says detectives have testimony from numerous witnesses who say Rivas, “appeared to be deliberately attempting to strike nearby vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians by swerving towards them while in the roadway and while on the sidewalk.”

According to the probable cause affidavit filed yesterday by the State of Oregon, Rivas told investigators several odd claims about what happened on Monday. “At times he claimed he was having brake problems and that he had been searching for an open auto repair shop,” the document said. Rivas also at first tried to say the crimes were committed by someone else in a similar SUV, but he ultimately admitted he was the one driving.

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A story by The Oregonian based on the court hearing yesteray story includes claims made by Rivas that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Their story lists several details of Rivas’ personal life and his multiple previous run-ins with the law. Among them are two protective orders filed against him and a license suspension in 2013 that followed a failure to provide proof of compliance on three convictions for failing to obey traffic signals. His license was reinstated in 2014.

Rivas’ next court date is scheduled for February 4th.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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LuizXenaEl BicicleroClark in VancouverJRB Recent comment authors
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Clark in Vancouver
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Clark in Vancouver

He may not have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol but I suspect under the influence of propaganda. Car culture, automotive suprematist, anti-pedestrian, anti-cyclist, anti-urban propaganda which prevails in the media.
I don’t know what the laws are in the U.S. in regards to hate speech but it would be great if a person using a travel mode could be considered an identifiable group that would have protection.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_Canada

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Please note that Not Guilty is always the first plea entered as to maintain a suspect’s Constitutional Rights.

squareman
Subscriber

True. Still queue the “temporary insanity” defense in 3 … 2 …

Do lawyers/defendants still try that one? I can’t recall that coming up in a story in a while, but it sure was huge for a good long while (including “crime of passion”). Does anyone under 40 know the Twinkie defense in the 80s?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

The defense is still used.

However, anyone who goes around killing others on purpose by definition can’t be said to be totally sane.

Whether or not sanity comes into the argument, he clearly is a menace to society.

JRB
Guest
JRB

You need more than showing that person is not totally sane to prevail with an insanity defense. You have to prove that a person did not appreciate the nature and consequences of their actions and they were unable to understand that what they did was wrong. Most insanity defense fail on the latter because any effort to cover up or escape liability of the crime proves that they know what they did was wrong.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’m not yet 40, but I’m aware of the Twinkie Defense, if only because I grew up in the Bay Area. The trial took place in 1979, before my birth, but it came up in conversation from time to time.

Jason
Guest
Jason

“At times he claimed he was having brake problems and that he had been searching for an open auto repair shop,”

Yeah, that’s what I do when I have mechanical issues. I drive around town looking for a repair shop.

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

I’m not a lawyer but believe that operating an unsafe vehicle is a moving violation. It would then make sense to me that when such action results in injury AND death, this would lead to a charge of manslaughter at the very least.

However, it should be fairly easy to ascertain whether brakes were in working order despite the damage the car sustained.

Alex
Guest
Alex
oliver
Guest
oliver

Drive into town, as there are no businesses that cater to automotive sales, service and repair between Oregon City and Portland.

Jason
Guest
Jason

That’s not the quote. And even if it were, he was not ‘between Oregon City and Portland’. He would have passed a notable number of shops by the time he was tooling around the residential streets.

Also, 1) call around 2) call a tow truck (most insurance packages have free towing included) 3) regardless – knowingly operating a motor vehicle with failing brakes is a crime, and it’s an ludicrous behavior.

Bobcycle
Guest
Bobcycle

I read and heard that rather quickly it was determined this was not an act of terrorism. Googled terrorism “Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social “. As a cyclist and pedestrian I feel intimidated often by aggressive drivers and this takes my apprehension about using urban public spaces up a notch. I’ll still bike and walk but maybe try to be more alert to my surroundings.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I don’t think the Anarchists will like that definition 🙂

Alex
Guest
Alex

Or the alt-right even moreso.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

So we can agree it fits “both sides”?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Nope. The right wing murders people at an incredibly disproportionate rate. Even tho a broad definition groups property and people together, I don’t. If you do, I think you are sick. Period.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“If you disagree with me, I think you’re sick.” It’s hard to build a conversation off of that.

And the definition provided specifically referenced property damage, so if there’s any sickness, it’s coming from the federal legal code.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yep. In the case of comparing property damage to murdering people, I definitely do. I mean, the law basically backs me up here, and thus society. Killing people has much harsher penalities than property damage.

The federal legal code then goes on to define the different ramifications for property damage vs murdering people. I was specifically talking about motrg’s “both sides” argument and not the high level definition of terrorism.

You should look up the word nuance. It’s pretty cool.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

According to Bobcycle, the law says that two things meet the definition of terrorism. It does not say those two things are equivalent or equal in severity (though the posted snippet does not differentiate between the two).

MOTRG was pointing out that actions on both the far left and far right (i.e. “both sides”) meet the definition provided, and from my reading I believe he is right. He did not equate property crime with violence against people, and I don’t think anyone else did either.

If you want to present a more nuanced view that shows why property damage of the sort the far left has been inflicting on Portland does not meet the definition of the law, or point out where MOTRG equated those things, I’d definitely consider it with an open mind.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yep and I am never going to equate the two. They aren’t the same and I don’t care if they fall under some large umbrella term. It’s a pointless argument.

I, in fact, don’t want to waste my time listening to the fascist side of the story. I have heard enough from them. Thanks for asking.

Luiz
Guest
Luiz

“in the furtherance of social political objectives” does not seem to apply to Paul Rivas and iirc correctly, there is no legal definition of domestic terrorism.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

No one really wants to have a conversation with you. You’re just always here, spewing words, apparently unable to take a hint:

“Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward.”

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Just as the law provides for loss of rights to carry a firearm after using the same to commit a crime, the law should provide for loss of rights to drive after using a car to commit a crime.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Driving is not a right, though. I understand it is treated as such, but it isn’t a Constitutional Right.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s not in the constitution, but driving has all the hallmarks of a de facto right. It is granted to all who meet a specified criteria, and while it can be withdrawn and limited, that requires due process, just like a right.

I’m not sure how, in practice, driving is not a right.

Alex
Guest
Alex

A right is something you can just do, a privilege is something that can be revoked more easily and often requires license/training to do. If it were a right, we wouldn’t need a license. Rights are not conferred by anyone.

I mean, this is basic civics. For the amount of political talk you do here, I should hope you at least understand the difference between a right and a privilege. At least this clearly shows me that you don’t even take the time to understand basic rules around civic life.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

We need a license for some types of armaments that are generally considered constitutional. Furthermore, we need a license of sorts to vote, which we call “registration”.

And just to clarify, I’m not saying driving is a right, only that it functions as one, and is hard to distinguish from one by any sort of objective test.

Finally, please figure out how to make your points without personal attacks.

Alex
Guest
Alex

And guess what? We can’t own nuclear bombs. Does that mean it’s not a right vs a privilege? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything. We still have the right, not privilege, to bear arms. Your argument shows your lack of understanding more than it points out inconsistencies. Registration is not licensure. And we do not need a license to vote. That’s ridic.

I made my point and then made a comment about your consistent willingness to engage while fundamentally not having a sound understanding of what you are talking about. So I did both, independent of each other. I was hoping to bring some self-awareness from your side before you feel the need to respond to basically every comment here with your ignorance showing. Some things can be left unsaid.

Edits: autocorrect

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

It’s not in the constitution, but driving has all the hallmarks of a de facto right. It is granted to all who meet a specified criteria, and while it can be withdrawn and limited, that requires due process, just like a right.

I’m not sure how, in practice, driving is not a right.

My take on this is that people definitely do have a right to move about freely using the public ways, but too many people have conflated “move” with “drive” because the marketing has successfully convinced most of us that the only way any of us could possibly hope to get from one place to another is to drive there.

This mindset has definitely caused most people–including the courts, it would seem–to confuse “right to travel” with “right to drive”. The problem is not that we’ve confused “rights” and “privileges” per se, but that we’ve synonymized, if that’s a word, “travel” with “drive”.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Breathing and love aren’t specifically in the constitution either. Neither are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nor the word “god”.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Correct – the state can invoke the death penalty and make you stop breathing. However, love is a feeling and stopping a feeling is impossible or perhaps just a fool’s errand.

However, 14a sec 1 states “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”. Therefore, there is a right to a trial before the gov’t kills you (supposedly). In practice, we know that’s not true and it is doled out in a pretty biased way, both in and out of courts.

However, not sure your point here – are you saying we do have a “right” to live (we don’t), or to love (it’s impossible to stop). So really, where are you going with this?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I’m as guilty as anyone in citing the US constitution on debates, but the chief purpose of the document (among many) is define what laws and powers belong to the feds, versus all other laws that presumably belong to the states or to the people. We have numerous human rights, and some are identified in the constitution and its amendments, but many others are not identified, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist or that we don’t have a right to them.

There’s also a very human tendency to assume that if certain rights are cited or not cited in the constitution, that is the end-all of citations and laws. It is until it isn’t, and only if it is enforced or not. We keep changing our collective minds of who has which rights or not. Do people have a “right” to travel, to move around, peaceably congregate or assemble? Do you have a right to bicycle? Or to drive a car? Or even to walk or use public transit? If you travel, do you have the right to pass through on any public street irregardless of the color or hue of your skin tone? Not too long ago there were in fact lots of legal restrictions for people who happen to have inherited certain skin colors, and many enforcers still restrict movement without legal basis, alas.

And so the question, “Is driving a constitutionally protected right?”, is a good one, something worthy of debate. Who is driving? Why? Do they have the right to use public right-of-way?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Well, the question would be, should we make driving a right? And I would be a negative on that. I would think the originalists would have a hard time arguing for that one, too. But who knows, they probably love their cars more than their legal arguments.

Houston Bolles
Guest
Houston Bolles

He drove right by this place.
https://www.affordabletirepdx.com/

Jason
Guest
Jason
Xena
Guest
Xena

How is this not premeditated 1st degree murder?