Apparently road rage felon Christopher Thompson has accumulated a stack of letters attesting to his good character, seeking a lenient sentence for his violence in Mandeville Canyon. The prosecutor, District Attorney Mary Stone, is seeking letters giving the counterpoint to that – attesting to the seriousness of his crimes and the personal effect such crimes have on cyclists. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters must be received by Sunday evening at the latest. Find my letter below:
Honorable Judge Millington,
I am not a coward. I have lived in bad neighborhoods, and I have been in bad situations. I have always walked with tall with confidence that I could take care of myself. At 6 feet, male, and a swift runner, I have struggled to understand the helpless fear that more vulnerable friends feel on a dark street.
Now I understand. Cycling in LA breaks me. Daily, careless drivers put me in mortal danger. It leaves me breathless, and drained. I am helpless to do anything about it, short of quitting. Should I quit? Ten days ago I almost did; only necessity kept me riding until stubborn will overwhelmed sense.
Unlike those drivers, Christopher Thompson was not careless with the lives of Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr. Rather, he was careful to endanger their lives. He aimed a blow at them, fully aware, as his profession has made him, of the pain he could inflict. His actions were deliberate and, I believe, motivated by a strong sense of entitlement. By his own admission, he sought to teach these men a lesson. That is the language of a vigilante.
I have overactive empathy. In the privacy of my home, Thompson’s dejected look as he is cuffed puts me near tears. His loss of freedom at his own hands, his self inflicted shame, and his difficultly bearing them – it is written on him. This is a human thing, a special awful feeling we all know. I would rather that no person feel that distress. It would be better if this never happened. It would be better if Thompson’s violent entitlement never surfaced, never attacked, and he lived out his life as a peaceful man. I would be a terrible judge.
But – Thompson sought to intimidate these two men. When they were not intimidated, he sought to punish them. He succeeded, and painfully disrupted the lives of two innocent men. Had circumstances been different, he might stand convicted of murder today.
Do you believe that Thompson would not do this again? If no witness was watching? I am not convinced. If the anger and entitlement are still present, then the ingredients for vigilante violence are still present. That violence could manifest on or off the road.
His villainy terrifies me.
Dr. Alexander Thompson