An American doctor has been jailed for five years for injuring two cyclists in a road rage attack in Los Angeles, California.
Dr Christopher Thompson deliberately slammed on his car’s brakes moments after overtaking the pair, causing one to smash though his rear windscreen and the other to crash into the kerb.
Thompson was found guilty in November of six felony counts including assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, reckless driving causing specified bodily injury, and mayhem.
He has now been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, extended by three years because of the ‘great bodily injury’ caused to one of the cyclists, Ron Peterson.
Judge Scott T Millington called the case a “wake-up call” to motorists and cyclists, and urged the authorities to build more bike lanes, the Los Angeles Times reported. The judge said Thompson had shown a lack of remorse during the case at Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The incident, which happened in Mandeville Canyon Road on 4 July 2008, came to international attention because of graphic pictures posted on the internet.
Peterson, who flew face first into the rear windscreen, had his nose sliced off – it took 90 stitches to reattach it – and lost several teeth. The other cyclist, Christian Stoehr, hit the back of the vehicle and was flung over the side by the impact and onto the pavement. He suffered road rash and a separated shoulder.
Thompson called 911 but told the operator that the pair weren’t seriously injured. When a third cyclist tried to stop him leaving the scene, the doctor apparently swore at him and threatened to drive over his bike.
Throughout the trial, the former emergency room physician denied deliberately causing the crash. But the court was played a 911 tape where he could clearly be heard telling the operator “I slammed on my brakes”, and a traffic investigator related how Thompson had told him: “I passed them up and stopped in front to teach them a lesson.”
The court heard Thompson had earlier “exchanged words” with the cyclists, who were out on a training ride, after sounding his horn at them. He had been involved in two previous incidents involving cyclists near his home in
Mandeville Canyon Road. In both cases, the
Los Angeles District Attorney’s office did not find enough evidence to prosecute.