Update on our Motorist Battery Case

BHPD logoWe now mark 13 weeks since we provided the BHPD with an accurate plate # in a harassment, threat and battery case. Two weeks ago we looked at mug shots. If you file a traffic-related collision or batter report with BHPD, please let Better Bike know! < That was our original post. Now we have an update on our attempt to hold a hostile motorist accountable, but unfortunately to no satisfactory resolution. Read on!

We’re sorry to report that the driver of the 2008 Dodge Charger (plate #6ETV376) who perpetrated battery after a minor disagreement at a 4-way stop sign has totally escaped prosecution. How does a Beverly Hills driver get away with threats, taunts, intimidation and finally spitting? Great question It should be a concern of our police department and our Traffic and Transportation Commission alike.

The police took our report but ultimately the detective fell down on the job. Around the same time, the commission voted to recommend to City Council a very weak slate of bike improvements. More importantly, that discussion revealed the usual misconceptions plus a lot of anti-bike bias among three of five commissioners. Seems that they get exercised about parking permits but not so much about cyclist safety.

Here we really wanted to see the driver punished. He’s a spitter! And we did put in the effort. But only after 9 weeks of waiting, interleaved with many follow up calls to the investigating detective (each eliciting a “dog ate my homework” excuse for delay), did we finally see the mug shots. Nine weeks later.  But afterward we were told that our identification of the driver was a no-go. “You couldn’t make a positive ID,” the detective’s supervisor said. We got that call six weeks after the mug shot session.

Here’s the timeline. Does it inspire confidence?

  • 2/6 Battery reported (case #12-0746)
  • Several messages left for the detective
  • 3/1 Detective says “Next week or so.”
  • Three more messages.
  • 3/19 Detective says, “Trying to get caught up this week. Try back next week.”
  • Message, message.
  • 3/27 “Working on those today.”
  • Message, message, message, message.
  • 4/17 Looked at mug shots.
  • Silence.
  • 5/2 “I have to finish pulling it together and send it to the DA’s office.”
  • Email, more pointed email, then took it to Professionals Standards. Referred back to supervisor.
  • Message, message, message.
  • 6/1 “You couldn’t make a positive ID.”

We made the wrong ID? Or we expressed some reservation about that first choice that we did make and that was the deal-breaker? It was too unclear. So the supervisor said he would check with the detective.

Maybe we couldn’t make him; nine weeks of delay might have fogged our recollection, it’s true. But it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for seeing the process through. Given our experience we were not at all confident that our ID was not positive.

Message, message – evidently the supervisor got the same runaround that we did!

On 6/14 when we got a return call. “The ID was incorrect,” the supervisor said. How so? “You did not identify the owner of the vehicle.” Well, maybe, but we’re still not sure. We won’t ever know. But that’s probably as far as we can take it.

Two things stand out though. If we made an incorrect ID on 4/17 like he said, why would the investigating detective tell us (on 5/2) that he would send it to the DA? Wasn’t it already case closed?

And second, when we couldn’t reach the investigating detective after several tries early in the investigation, we did finally speak with another (unnamed) detective. His candor was revealing: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” What about closure, we asked? Don’t hold your breath was the suggestion. But you know, we weren’t interested in simply waiting around to receive a call that, in retrospect, would clearly never come.

For all of us concerned about road safety, the takeway here is that in Beverly Hills you can get harassed by a motorist – even threatened and spit upon – and then file the report promptly. You can follow up as directed every week, week-in-and-week-out. Yet there is still no assurance that the case will find a positive resolution. We had an accurate plate number and we knew the face, but the investigator gave us the runaround. What could we do? Was the guy someone to protect? It’s a stumper.

Now we’ve had positive interactions with the Beverly Hills Police Department too. We’re speaking with a representative there about making bike-involved collision data available to the public. But as we’re reminded about the peril just today in a report from Roadblock about a hit-and-run in Beverly Hills, we can only reflect back to this experience, and to getting broadsided one Saturday afternoon in May. The report on that collision cited the driver (Daniella Zinberg, Cayenne plate #6KGE17) only for failure to yield.

And don’t even get us started on the story of the hit-and-run victim who was hospitalized for a month and then, with plate number in hand, had to sleuth the case himself after the BHPD was less-than-responsive.

2 thoughts on “Update on our Motorist Battery Case

  • July 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    It seems like there would be a protocol requiring timely access to mug shots for an identification. But why wouldn’t all drivers of the ca/household residents be included, not just the owner? It is hard to estimate age in this neck of the woods! and a change in hairstyle/color or even a pleasant expression when you saw a hateful one can be confusing in a face only shot.
    Whatever system the ride leader used to film thrill ride–continuous video on the helmet and/or whipping out your phone to get a timestamped picture of the threatener seems to be what they want. Why wouldn’t the officer at least interview the car owner to find out where s/he was at the reported time & who was driving the car at that time?
    We had two BH cops in our back yard at 2 am because they had seen an adult riding a child’s bike, questioned him, got his id etc. but let him go for lack of evidence and then drove up & down a very large area until they found some open gates & went in back yards to look for …?????? No one had reported a missing bike!!!No one had been threatened or injured(tho it’s a little scarey to be awakened by the voices of two men mumbling/rumbling in your back yard.
    The whole incident was treated very seriously and urgently even after they had the guys ID & could have waited until the morning to get a theft report when the victim realized it. So maybe best to make reports to the night shift?

  • July 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve been seriously considering getting a setup like the ride leader’s: a Go-Pro camera he’s mounted (with included hardware) to his handlebar. I might opt for the rear view, though, for obvious reasons. But you’re right, with video in hand we can press for more. And at least get by the first hurdle: discounting the offense. But I think the greater value there is in documenting hazardous driving, threats, etc., for education purposes. “Here’s how it is, Mr. Mayor.” The Go-Pro is $200 + up but there are less expensive options too.

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