Legal System Fails Again: No Charges for Trucker Who Killed Amelie

"Deadly negligence by a professional driver is still okay in the eyes of the law here in San Francisco."

The truck driver who hit and killed Amelie Le Moullac on her bike at Folsom and Sixth Streets last August will face no charges from District Attorney George Gascón, despite surveillance video showing the driver at fault in the incident.

Gilberto Alcantar, the truck driver, is shown making an unsafe right turn in the bike lane in the video found by an SF Bicycle Coalition staffer. SFPD investigators initially claimed they could find no such video, and initially blamed Le Moullac for her own death. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr later apologized for the botched investigation, as well as the behavior of the sergeant who purposefully blocked a bike lane at a rally for safer streets in her honor. Suhr declared that the video evidence showed the fault was mainly with the driver, but DA Gascón says prosecutors can't make an adequate case to file charges. [...]

"After reviewing the evidence that we have, looking at the video of the incident, it's really hard for this grieving family to understand how a driver can do what he did without receiving even a slap on the wrist for a minor violation of the vehicle code," Liberty said.

"There is no issue about what happened. The video is clear, from what I understand -- he made an unlawful turn across the bike lane," said Shaana Rahman, an attorney who represents pedestrian and bicyclist victims in civil court. "It's not all the time that you get such a clear piece of evidence in cases, either civil or criminal. There aren't videos for every bike accident that happens -- and here we have one."

As frustrating as the lack of charges in this case may be, it's par for the course when it comes to holding drivers accountable for killing people biking and walking. As the Center for Investigative Reporting found last year, 60 percent of the 238 drivers who killed pedestrians in the Bay Area between 2007 and 2011 were found to be at fault or suspected of a crime but faced no criminal charges, and those who did usually only faced a slap on the wrist. Drivers tend not to be charged unless they were drunk or fled the scene.

Previously, previously, previously.

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5 Responses:

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Freakonomics covered this recently:

    So what’s “the perfect crime”? It turns out that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there’s a good chance — especially if you live in New York — that you’ll barely be punished.

  2. The criminal justice system failed; a wrongful death lawsuit is proceeding.

  3. Ronan Waide says:

    This from the KQED article is interesting:

    "The language that police use is also changing. In the past, police often classified pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities as tragic accidents, which implied they could not have been prevented. Now it’s official SFPD policy to call them collisions."

    I noticed a similar shift in language here some time ago, and maybe it helps from some legal standpoint, but the idea of describing a pedestrian/vehicle interaction as a collision strikes me as weird to say the least.

    (There was an apparent shift in reporting of bombings and shootings here years back from "x group claimed responsibility" to "x group admitted responsibility". For all that's been said about the effects of framing, I do wonder if there's any measurable effect in these particular word choices.)

    • Richard says:

      As long as the language pigs use is changing, I'm cool with the whole being run down and murdered thing.

  4. PeterL says:

    A petition to file charges: http://bit.ly/SFDApetition