Thursday, May 08, 2008

Update on Officer McBreakfast Taco

By way of a quick update on my run-in with the bully who works for the Montgomery County Constable, Montgomery County has five precincts, each managed by an elected official bearing the title "constable." I have now discovered that Officer McBreakfast Taco does not work in Precinct One where I was riding, but rather works for the constable of Precinct Five--i.e., he was not even in his jurisdiction when he took it upon himself to be a complete ass.

So, David Hill, the elected constable in precinct five, will receive today a registered letter on my law firm stationary. The letter states:

Constable Hill:

I am a cyclist who trains in Montgomery and Grimes Counties nearly every weekend. I am writing to you because, on April 19, 2008, at about 10:00 in the morning, I was harassed and assaulted by one of your deputies. His conduct was completely out of line, and I will describe it now.

I was approximately 4 miles west of Montgomery on FM149 (in Precinct 1), heading east and riding legally in all respects. A pickup truck passed me very close and honked, as many motorists do when they are trying to harass cyclists. This motorist, however, was one of your deputy constables in a reddish maroon pickup with gold lettering on the back.

Startled, I shouted as I usually do when a motorist puts me at risk. Your officer then slammed on his brakes and intentionally cut me off with his vehicle, swerving across my path and the minimal shoulder, forcing me to brake sharply. The officer later accused me of riding half way to the center of the road, but this is a complete falsehood generated in an attempt to justify his conduct. My bicycle was positioned between the right tire mark of any passing cars and the white stripe at the side of the road. The shoulder at that point is not suitable for riding. More to the point, his conduct is unjustifiable even if I had been riding on the centerline of the road.

At this point he would neither move his vehicle nor exit his cab, but contented himself with shouting unintelligibly at me from inside the vehicle. I could neither hear what he said nor proceed down the road, so I approached the cab. When I arrived he proceeded to yell at me to the effect that I was not permitted on the road and was required to ride to the right of the white line at all times.

I calmed myself down, assured the officer that I was not trying to pick a fight with him, but that he was just dead wrong. Bicycles are vehicles, and they are permitted to use the farm to market roads. I was riding properly and as far to the right as was reasonably safe to do so. I told him that if he believed I was wrong, he should just proceed to give me a ticket rather than argue and we would allow the court to decide.

He apparently did not have the courage of his convictions or simply wanted to bully me further rather than do his job. He would not give me a ticket, preferring instead to keep shouting at me to stay off the road or I would be ticketed. I responded that I was allowed to be on the road, that I would continue riding as I had been, and if he believed I was wrong, he should simply ticket me and get on with it. He eventually just drove off.

It is completely intolerable if cyclists cannot rely upon the protection of law enforcement. For that reason, I am not willing to consider this as just another example of an ignorant motorist from whom we should not expect much better. We can expect better, indeed much better, from people sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizenry.

Thus, my demands are simple:

1. The officer will be identified by name for me.

2. The officer will have a formal complaint placed in his personnel record.

3. The officer will attend bicycle patrol training for police officers.

4. The officer will be trained in the actual rights of cyclists.

5. You will certify to me what training program has been completed.

6. The officer will issue a written apology addressed to me admitting his error, in return for which I will provide the officer and anyone else concerned with a full release.

I have no interest in either litigation or in recompense, only that law enforcement behave professionally and properly enforce the law. Neither occurred here. I am ready and willing to constructively cooperate in crafting a resolution here. That said, any amount of foot dragging or lack of engagement will not be accepted. If I sense any hesitation to cooperate, I will instantly pursue formal discipline against the officer before the appropriate authorities, and I have not ruled out filing a felony complaint against the officer. It certainly would have been considered a felony had our roles been reversed.

I expect confirmation that you have received this communication at the earliest possible opportunity, and you should feel free to contact me at any time for the purpose of investigating or resolving this incident.

Very truly yours,

[Real Lawyer Name]



We'll see what happens. I expect, at least initially, not much. At that point, there is the Freedom of Information Act to get the information that I want. After that, information is power.

24 comments:

BowserTheCat said...

One of the things I really like about living in Austin is that it is relatively bicycle friendly. There certainly are idiots out there and I do occasionally encounter them but by and large the city and outlying areas are very accustomed to cyclists and quite helpful and pleasant.

In particular I would like to give my regards to the Cedar Park police officer who saw me looking pretty frazzled at a convenience store after 30 miles or riding into the wind a couple of weeks ago and wanted to make sure I was OK and didn't need assistance. I certainly appreciate his concern!

Brent Buckner said...

Thanks for the update - I'll be cheering from the cheap seats!

TriSaraTops said...

Boo-yah. That guy swerved at the WRONG CYCLIST. Get him.

21stCenturyMom said...

You go, Greyhound!

Did you hear what happened in Austraila yesterday? A pissed off motorist pulled in front of a pack of about 50 pro cyclists and slammed on his brakes thus seriousl hampering Ben Kersten's Olympic trial efforts. He was very upset. A woman endo'd over the car and the entire back of the pack was almost taken out by a big rig that jack knifed when it slammed on its brakes. Ugly stuff

http://uk.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idUKSYD5861820080508

stronger said...

Ye-Yeah!

Alili said...

LOVE IT! Way to go!!!

Curly Su said...

yeah! awesome; i hope he has to sit in bicycle training all day like we have to sit in driver training...

Liam O'Connell said...

dude,
you are my hero.
i am going to start throwing co2 cannisters at every car that beeps at me.
liam

TWRunner said...

Thanks for following up on this issue. Expect a lovely letter from the County Attorney's Office.

Cass said...

Wonderful! Now, did you use firm letterhead to send this out?
You actually got me thinking (besides the small issue of compensable damages) - does the officer have immunity? For this action, I think that it is probably waived or you can sue in his individual capacity. If he was in course in scope, the assault included the use of a motorized vehicle. Otherwise, he may be outside of course and scope - which I don't know how many officers do their patrols in personal vehicles.
I'll let the more experienced attorney decide for sure...

Jane said...

I love when the smart guys overcome dumb brawn.

Fe-lady said...

We just had a sheriff (Barney Fife I think) pull in front of a pack of about 50 riders and made them all crash into each other, because he "thought they shouldn't be on the road"- some of the riders who got hurt and whose bikes are trashed are battling a similar battle that you are right now.
Best of luck!

CoachLiz said...

You Go Greyhound!

Keep us updated on what happens.

Donald said...

Very nicely played. Keep us posted.

monica said...

SUWEEEEET!!! i say you demand that he be relegated to bike patrol for a year and really learn what we go through!!

keep us updated.

now i want a breakfast taco. is that wrong 16 days before ironman??

Benson said...

I hope this all turns out for the best. Your best. Tis the season to watch out for angry motorists.

pinkgurugal said...

you go greyhound...and i love your lawyer/law firm arsenal!!!

TriSherpa Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Bravo!

IronJenny said...

Thanks Greyhound, for looking our for us all, and for being our voice.
Hugs, Jenny

Coach Tammy said...

Woot! Woot! Go Greyhound, Go Greyhound!!! Keep us updated for sure.

Supalinds said...

Go get em. You are awesome on so many levels!!

Stef said...

Love the letter.

Lana said...

Way to go Greyhound! I love it! Can't wait to hear what happens.

Judi said...

I hope he gets some action taken againest him. What an ass.