After being tapped twice from behind by the driver behind her, in what was clearly an intentional attempt to harass and intimidate, Girl On A Bike (K.C.) did what many of us can only dream of doing. She pulled out her badge.
Before I get any further, let me explain something to you about a police badge. It doesn't grant you super powers. It's simply a piece of tin embedded with a number. It's not magical. It will not stop bullets. It will not make people do what you want. It will not make you win a fight. I have plenty of friends that always seem to think that because I'm a police officer, I am impervious to assault, robbery & bullets and that I never, ever have to worry about these things. This is not true. If anything, I am more vulnerable. Because instead of just being your average girl, I'm a threat.
The driver freaked out and drove away. On her capital bikeshare bike, K.C. took chase.
I'm not sure why I decided to go after him. I was on a CaBi, in civilian attire, off-duty. Instinct I guess? I did though. I followed him up Kenyon where he had gotten stuck in traffic & the light at 14th St. NW. I guess he saw me coming after him, because all of a sudden his reverse lights came on (he couldn't go anywhere else), and he started driving backwards towards me.
He got away from her, but she was able to get on her radio and give a good enough description to allow other officers to arrest the suspects. The car smelled of marijuana and K.C. thinks they might have been dealers who were lucky enough to get rid of their product.
The driver was charged at the scene with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (vehicle), Assault on a Police Officer, Fleeing & Eluding, & Reckless Driving. Needless to say, his vehicle was impounded.
Long story short, they pleaded guilty, but not to any vehicular assault charges and now K.C. wants to pack the courtroom for the sentencing.
I think its just as important to show that you can't use your motor vehicle to bully cyclists on the road.
Mr. Harrison's sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 19th at DC Superior Court. I want to pack the courtroom with cyclists. As the victim of a crime, I am able to present a "Victim Impact Statement" to the judge. You better believe that I intend to bring up the fact that I am a cyclist first and foremost, and that this whole saga began when a driver decided to literally push around a cyclist with his motor vehicle. It was just a matter of luck that this cyclist also happens to be a police officer as well. It is Not Okay for drivers to bully cyclists on our streets. His actions were not only irresponsible, but CRIMINAL. He didn't "accidentally" hit me--he made a conscious decision to hit a human being with a 2-ton vehicle. That is assault. These sorts of things have to STOP. I know I am not the only victim of these sorts of attacks. Read what happened to Saul Leikin when he simply tried to assist another cyclist after a traffic accident by calling 911. He was only trying to do the right thing, and he got a concussion for it. This is unacceptable. Drivers need to start being held accountable for their decisions & actions, and punished appropriately.
If you also think this is unacceptable please try to attend this sentencing hearing. Pass the word around to other cyclists.
And so I have.
As an aside, I do get that she had a radio, and so she could contact other officers directly, without going through dispatch, and she has the training to notice the things that matter, like what the driver looked like, not just what the car looked like. I probably wouldn't have the presence of mind to do that. But, count me among those who think that the response was a little more serious because she was a police officer. It would be stunning if it were otherwise. The police have a very difficult, stressful and even frightening job. I never have someone try to run me down as part of my work. Naturally that will create a sense of camaraderie that will drive people to protect one another with added urgency. That's human nature and I'm not going to say that's wrong. The question in my mind is not whether her call was answered with greater urgency, but whether everyone's is answered with adequate urgency.