Kim calls for hearing on how SFPD investigates cyclist fatalities UPDATED

To some activists, the anti-cyclist attitude expressed Aug. 21 by Sgt. Ernst epitomizes SFPD biases.

UPDATED In the wake of revelations of shoddy and insensitive police work related to the Aug. 14 death of 24-year-old bicyclist Amelie Le Moullac, who was run over by a commercial truck driver who turned right across her path as she rode in a bike lane on Folsom Street at 6th Street, Sup. Jane Kim today called for a hearing on how the SFPD investigates cyclist fatalities.

The issue has lit up the Bay Guardian website with hundreds of reader comments after we wrote a series of blog posts and our "Anti-cyclist bias must stop" editorial, including our revelation that the SFPD failed to seek surveillance video of the crash even as its Sgt. Richard Ernst showed up at an Aug. 21 memorial to Le Moullac to denigrate cyclists and make unfounded statements about the fatal collision.

Police Chief Greg Suhr later apologized for Ernst’s behavior and the flawed investigation and said that surveillance video unearthed by cycling activists led to the conclusion by a police investigation that the driver who killed Le Moullac was at fault, according to Bay City News and SF Appeal, which also reported on Kim’s call for a hearing.

As we reported, motorists are rarely cited in collisions with cyclists or pedestrians, even when there’s a fatality involved and the motorist didn’t have the right-of-way, which appears to the case in Le Moullac’s death. The District Attorney’s Office, which did not immediately return a call from the Guardian, is considering whether to bring criminal charges in the case.

UPDATE: We just heard from DA's Office spokesperson Stephanie Ong Stillman, who said, "The San Francisco Police Department has delivered a preliminary investigative package and we are in the process of reviewing it to determine what additional investigation is necessary."

UPDATE 9/5 5pm: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum says she welcomes Kim's hearings, which are long overdue. "We're really thankful to Jane for bringing this forward," Shahum told the Guardian, saying she hopes the hearing results in changes to how the SFPD investigates cyclist fatalilties. "We want to make sure there is ongoing accountability."

She also said the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has indicated to SFBC that it is working on near-term and long-term improvements on both Folsom and Howard streets, where cyclists in bike lanes must regularly contend to drivers cutting them off. The city does seem committed to a significant pilot of better bikeways there."

Meanwhile, as the San Francisco Examiner reported today, Le Moullac's family has filed a civil lawsuit against the driver who killed her, Gilberto Oriheaula Alcantar, as well as the company that he was driving for, Daylight Foods Inc., alleging that he was negligent in driving too fast and failing to pulled into the bike lane before making a right turn from Folsom onto 6th Street.


It may yet turn out that the cyclist "ran into" a turning vehicle.

What worries me far more about this case is that we had vigilante investigators from the SFBC selectively screening evidence. They are far more biased than the cops.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

activists would not have had to find the video.

Bad cop, no donut.

Bad commenter, no sense

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

single-issue activist walking the streets looking for a specific kind of evidence.

If this SFBC bozo had found something that proved the cyclist was at fault, would he have given it to the cops? No. He would have buried it.

We cannot have honest decent people tried by narrow-minded amoral activists.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

It was a video, you narrow-minded commenter, how exactly were the bicyclists going to manipulate that evidence? And it's not a disputed fact that the truck ran over the cyclist. Honestly, dude, your venom toward cyclists seems to be polluting your critical thinking skills.

Posted by steven on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

trollery. Already has been seen failing the Turing test.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

Weren't you the one who started it with your (uncalled-for) insults directed at bike activists?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:40 am

The behavior of some of the bike lobby have been appalling in the way that they have hijacked this tragedy to achieve political and ideological gain.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:57 am

It's called stereotyping and what's really appalling is your lack of compassion for the victim in this case.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:16 am

They seem to think that 1005 of the problems that cyclists have are all to do with other people.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:46 am

Who started that one? So typical of troll behavior. You come on here insulting people and then get your little feelings hurt when someone dishes it back at you. Then you whine and carry on about insults. Hilarious.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:25 am

But I always reserve the right to call out lies and liars.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 11:47 am

and you should not assume otherwise. But yes, of course SFBC could have doctored the evidence. Maybe there was two tapes and only one showed the driver at fault. Maybe there were photo's that SFBC destroyed. And so on.

The point is that justice is not served by one-sided activists going out and filtering evidence. Would you be happy if the only evidence came from the truck driver, his employer or his union?

This case stinks.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

The question is. did Le Moullac see the truck single for right hand turn, did Le Moullac ignore the truck intention to turn right and try to pass the truck even as it was in a turn? Had she snap a hard right, she might be alive today

Posted by Guest It's Me on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

It was video/photo evidence that kept Chris Buschiere out of jail.

The SFBC has been wholly incompetent at affirmatively representing cyclists' interests, we're getting rolled and the SFBC is trying to be "reasonable and empowering the haters.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

Seems to me that there are bike lanes popping up all over the place. If anything, they seem to appear indiscriminately.

Road resources are being taken from private and public vehicles, pedestrians and all other road users, and handed over to a tiny minority of fit, young, healthy, affluent, privileged white cyclists.

Don't get be wrong. I think SFBC are morons. But they appear to be effective morons.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

Cyclists are hated by motorists, pedestrians and the cops. It is more dangerous than ever to bike in San Francisco largely because the cops and motorists hate cyclists. The SFBC has not been able to win the war of perception because of their desire to appear reasonable. Their are successful at winning their policy demands, but they are too narrow focused and invested in their ideology to realize that their policy demands are not making cycling safer.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

lobbyists are seeking to profit from tragedy by imposing their own prejudicial agenda on the moderate majority, by sending out their own agents to conjure up "evidence" that of course suits their agenda.

We cannot let these entitled white frat boys and girls hijack the city.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

Do your own investigation, hire an investigator, find a sympathetic journalist to do some digging.

You know, do something productive rather than spout the same tired cliched talking points ad nauseum.

Excuse me. I have to go vomit.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

investigator to find evidence, sift through it to see which parts of it look my side look favorable, and then present only those parts to the cops?

Luckily for the residents of this city, people like you are given no power, and we can see why.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

Luckily for us, you're a blog commenter with no power to enforce your angry will and obvious ignorance upon this city.

Posted by steven on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

I would definitely take into account the fact that this alleged evidence was unearthed by a very partisan uninvited investigator.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

You could be a juror, but I highly doubt it.

Nothing like a empty (and speculative) threat by Guest to keep us all in line.

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

that readers here have no power.

We vote, we sit on juries, we make financial contributions and we influence each other.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 5:29 am

an empty (and speculative) threat to keep us all in line.

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

Not justice, ethics or decency? Just whoever can get the upper hand in a lawsuit by sending out agents, advocates and activists to selectively find "evidence"?

You want to ruin a man's life and career because, for all we know, some dumb cyclist ran right into a turning vehicle?

Posted by anon on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

for Jennifer Fairbach, the pedestrian badly injured by the fire hydrant sent flying in the accident involving an Uber driver? You portrayed her as a gold digging opportunist.

Her story wasn't as poignant as the Nazi's description of the definition of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials undoubtedly.

Why are you here so much? Is this the only website from which you aren't banned?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

and then attack my comment encouraging you to make such an investigation.

What kind of deranged, frustrated person are you?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

Manslaughter? That's the most serious charge I can think of which would have a reasonable chance of sticking. Still - would anyone really like to see the driver put in prison for this?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:41 pm the lesser charge created specifically for cases like this: negligence by a motorist resulting in a death, but without the intent to kill. Prison may not be appropriate, but neither is doing nothing. The cyclist Chris Bucchere got 1,000 hours of community service and a few years probation for accidentally killing the pedestrian, and all of you cyclist-haters screamed that he got off easy, but I think we'd all be quite content if this motorist got the same sentence. It's really about sending the message that there are consequences to driving deadly weapons in a reckless fashion.  

Posted by steven on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

thinking that we would mow down that cyclist except that we might get put in prison? Nobody thinks like that, just like no driver wants to get into any kind of accident. They are just accidents, they happen, and usually the driver feels terrible afterwards especially if someone is injured or dies.

But the baying for this driver's blood as seen in some quarters like SFStreetsBlog is, if anything, worse than the drivers alleged error of judgment.

Justice is not served by having a witchhunt.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

Thanks for answering the question. I'm not a "cyclist-hater" either Steven.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

hard to support cyclists on anything right now, nor Steven, StreetsBlog and the everyday behavior of cyclists in the city with their blatant disregard for traffic law - something Steven rationalized only a couple of weeks ago.

Posted by anon on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

to kill the bicyclist, and it is shown that they had been exhibiting a pattern of violating traffic law previous to the accident, then it should come down to the wishes of vicitms family in regard to jail time.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

6th - it is quite simply not possible as a big rig would flip over on a tight turn at speed.

There is no evidence of any "pattern" of violating traffic rules and anyway, by that standard, every cyclist would be held at fault for every accident.

The victim's family gets some input, and that soemhow got Bucchere off the hook, but they have civil court for compensation, so that should not be an issue ehre unless they want to be seen as vengeful and bitter.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

It really depends on the driver's behavior immediately before the accident and the family's wishes will play a part in sentencing or a plea bargain (not in the trial itself). I don't think imprisonment is called for in this case though - I generally believe, except for violent crimes, that prison serves very little purpose other than vengeance.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

amelie's death is the SFBC, SFBG, StreetsBlog etc. who seem to be gunning for this driver as if he is a hardened felon rather than just another unfortunate victim of an accident.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 5:30 am

I haven't heard any cyclists voice the kind of bloodlust for this driver that cyclist- haters voiced for Bucchere, so that charge is a misleading ruse. But this driver isn't the "victim" of an "accident," he is the perpetrator of an act of criminal negligence that took someone's life. Just as we called for Bucchere to be punished, so too should this driver.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 7:52 am

I agree with all of your posts on this thread.

However, maybe we should wait until this driver is actually found guilty of something before sentencing him and/or labelling him "a perpetrator of an act of criminal negligence."

just sayin'...

Posted by GuestD on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 8:21 am

that the DA can proceed on the basis of some fuzzy video from a block away.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 9:12 am

plenty of people baying for the blood of this driver in some revenge-fueled frenzy.

But throwing drivers in prison just because the victim is a cyclist will not make the roads safer for cyclists. You're making the mistake of seeking revenge rather than looking for ways to made this kind of accident less frequent. And better education, training and testing of cyclists might make more difference than exercising a lust for vengeance.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 9:11 am

This isn't about revenge, and I agree with you about the need for education, but this case calls out for educating motorists not just cyclists. I'm glad the police concluded the driver was at fault, which seemed to be the most logical conclusion from the fact that she was in the bike lane with the right-of-way when she got ran over. And part of the education process is punishing drivers who kill cyclists. We cyclists learned a lesson from the Bucchere incident: slow down and be careful when approaching crowded intersections, And you drivers need to learn a lesson from this one: look before turning right across a bike lane because you might hurt someone and be punished for doing so. Unfortunately, too many commenters have used this tragedy to wage an ideological war against cyclists and show appalling insensitivity to the death of the young woman.

Posted by steven on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:22 am

because the lane goes from being a solid line in the middle of the block, to a broken line where traffic should (but cannot always) merge in when turning right, and then non-existent at the intersection itself which is where the point of collision was.

Cyclists should not assume that a bike lane extends across a cross street, and the marking indicate fairly clearly that it does not.

Not that that excuses the driver in this case and, if it is true that he could and should have seen the cyclist, then his insurance company will no doubt pay out the claim. But it's also worth noting that trucks have blind spots - experienced cyclists know this and hold back in these situations.

I suspect that with a more alert driver and a more experienced cyclist, this accident would not have happened.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 10:45 am

This is in regard to a young person who died. No decent person wouldn't stretch to make such an accusation. Either not self-aware or a psychopath.

I haven't seen the video but from the way the police line has changed, my guess is that the truck approached the intersection at speed and was overtaking the victim and cutting across her in the bike lane as she entered. The driver did not merge into the bike lane before turning.

It was not for Amelie to have "held back"; it wasn't an option that was even offered to her. She was going about her business and got run down when she and the truck arrived at the intersection at the same time. The truck driver should have merged in behind her before turning or he should have been able to cleanly merge in front of her.

I have no problem with big rigs making wide turns, but when the drivers do so they need to drive with the utmost awareness of what is happening alongside their vehicle as they make them. If they don't first merge into the bike lane before starting their turns, such maneuvers are illegal and the drivers need remain viscerally aware that anything bad which happens to anybody is their fault. The truck drivers in such cases need to drive as though they are in a close quarters maneuving next to their boss' car and the boss is looking; they need to drive like a fireman around crash victims... well, scratch that last...

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

Even if it was 100% his or her fault?

We do not know where the blame lies. All we know is that the cops original finding is under review. We do not know if any charges will result - much less that they will be provable beyond any doubt. And even Steven acknowledges this isn't about punishment but about educating both drivers AND cyclists.

And yes, some cyclists hold back if they think a vehicle MIGHT make a turn, while other proceed as if that isn't possible. Problem.

Moreover, as many have pointed out, a long vehicle has to make wide turns and so cannot move to the right prior to a turn. Doesn't everyone know that? Or can you not drive?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

It's the good old boy southern justices lynch mob mentally

Posted by Guest It's Me on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

although, in practice, while they are mostly white, they are also affluent and educated, and so carry more influence than they should.

Good to see people fighting back though.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

Steven -

You're overlooking the major difference between this and the Bucherre case. Bucherre was speeding and had just moments before had run several red lights. Without having seen actual footage of this accident, this sounds more like a tragic accident rather than a criminal act. Not assigning blame one way or another but the bicyclist could have tried to go around the truck on the right side after the truck had signaled. Or the truck could have made a right turn without signaling or seeing the bicyclist. If the truck driver had been speeding or had run red lights, then yes he should be charged accordingly. The only commonalities between this accident and the Bucchere case is that 2 people died and a bicycle was involved in each case.

If you want to make a fair analogy (and not a cycling-biased one) you'd compare the Bucherre case with the idiot teenager who was speeding and killed I think a bicyclist and injured another one. I can't remember which city but I think it was in Walnut Creek or Pleasanton. He was driving an Escalade and was 19. He had a history of speeding and was speeding on the street when he killed the cyclist. That story is a fair comparison to Bucherre. Not this one.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

is impossible for a truck to take any kind of 90 degree turn at speed. It would flip over.

Posted by anon on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

In both cases, the victims' right-of-way was violated and they were killed. The bottom line in this latest case is Le Moullac had the right to continue on her path without being cut off, just like any road user. We can second-guess the victims in both cases, saying that perhaps they should have been more aware of their surroundings and yielded their right-of-way, but they each clearly had the right to be where they were before being struck by others who were operating in a negligent fashion.

Posted by steven on Sep. 05, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

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