Beverly Hills does hit and run better

Brandon Chau was recently the victim of a hit and run while riding in Beverly Hills.  When he couldn’t identify the drivers face – because you always get a good look at the drivers face when they hit you with their car – Beverly Hills Police Department, the highest paid department in California, dropped the case cold, despite having a plate, make and model.  Before you read his report, just ask yourself, “how would Beverly Hills Police Department handle a hit and run where the victim was killed?”  There has to be a better way to handle hit and run where a plate and vehicle description is known, but the driver isn’t specifically identified.  To me, this is dereliction of duty by Beverly Hills PD, and it’s not the first time the diminutive Beverly Hills has screwed up big on bikes.  Brandon is moving forward with a civil action.

I was on my bike heading west through little Santa Monica blvd on my way to work. There are only two lanes in the west direction so I was on the shoulder of the right lane. When I got to Bedford I stopped for a red light, but this silver mercedes behind me tries to make the red light and slams into me. My bike gets run over and I fly off my bike. I run back to the car and scream at the lady driving the car to get off my bike. At this point her front tire is over the back wheel of my bike. She backs off of my bike and then takes off. I drag my bike off to the sidewalk.

Two store owners from a clothing store on the intersection called “Susanas” saw the accident, sat me down, got me some water, and called the police on my behalf. They didn’t actually see the impact of the accident, but they were both looking out the window at the time and just saw me fly off my bike into view of their shop window. About 5 minutes later another woman drives up to me. She was apparently behind the mercedes and saw the accident. She tailed the hit and run mercedes and wrote down the license plate number. She gave me the post-it with her name, the make and model of the car, and the license plate. I was very lucky these people helped me out.

A police officer came to the scene and asked exactly where I was hit and checked out the damage on my bike. He took the post-it with all the info on it, took my address and driver’s license info and told me they would get in contact with me.

FAST FORWARD: a month later its January 12, and I get a call from the Beverly Hills Police to meet at the station to identify the suspect of the car. I showed up this morning before work, and they show me a sheet of 6 people to identify. They all are about 30, and have brown hair, which is all I can remember about what the driver looked like. Everyone on the sheet looks really similar to me, and since I only got a short glimpse at the woman before she sped off I can’t say for sure which picture is the right one. The officer said that she “couldn’t make it easy” in identifying the suspect. Unfortunately, I fuck up and I pick the wrong photo. The officer points out the correct suspect photo, but tells me that since I couldn’t identify the subject the case will probably not be picked up by the DA and that’s that. I asked for the number of the witness so I could thank her for helping me out, and they gave it to me. Just before I left the station, I called Mihai, and he told me to get an official police report. All I have now is a police report, a case number, and the name and number of the witness. The police are keeping the post-it with the license# of the car.

So here I am. I got a lot of concerned friends and family who want to see justice served, and if this is the end, my faith in the justice system will be severely tainted. While miraculous that I wasn’t hurt, what if I was? Would the police handle that case the same way they handled mine? Anyways, I would really just like to see this woman held accountable in some way.

Although I’m pretty bummed and shocked that the police are leaving me cold like this, I am extremely thankful that there are kind people out there who went out of their way to help me out. I never would have made it this far without your guys’ help and the ladies who helped me get the drivers’ plates and called the cops. Thanks so much for your help and I hope we will be able to move forward!!

Alex Thompson

Bikerowave co-founder, Cyclists' Bill of Rights co-author, President of Bikeside, and Math Phd. HULK SMASH straight from Michigan!

10 thoughts on “Beverly Hills does hit and run better

  1. It kinda sounds like by picking the wrong person out of the lineup he just completely ruined the case for the police and DA. The police probably shouldn’t have done a lineup but I don’t see how the prosecution could possibly win with the failed ID, the defense will certainly be able to bring it up in court. I can’t imagine the police/DA would be very happy with the situation either.

    He might do better with the civil case because the burden of proof is lower.

  2. So if I get hit by a car, the first thing I should do, provided that I can walk, is attempt to snap a picture of the driver?

    If they have the make and model of the car, can’t they reasonably prove who was driving it, regardless of the line-up?

    I hope this civil suit proceeds and is successful. No one should get away with a hit and run aka attempted murder.

  3. Ok then! So next time I hit anything with my car, be it another car, biker, or pedestrian, all I have to do is speed off and if I’m fast enough, no one would have seen my face.

    I’ll be sure to drive around with a ski mask from now on!

  4. Yes… at an accident the first thing you should do is get out your cellphone, turn on the video camera and just carry it around with you. Don’t bother to point out to anybody that you’re doing it, but take careful note or ALL the circumstances you can: the location of the vehicle(s), the people in the vehicles, the license plate(s) involved, record witnesses information, take statements, do ANYTHING you can to document what’s going on. When you do get to civil court, your opponent will do everything possible to distort EVERY fact of the situation which does not favor their case. Having as much info as possible in your favor is terribly important.

    Sorry about your sitch, Brandon. Good luck.

  5. As a resident of BH this is another embarrassing incident to overcome. I put in a call to the new City Mgr. Jeff Kolin, who is allegedly a cyclist. Perhaps if everyone called in and demanded action from the City Manager to get equal treatment for cyclists traveling in BH it would be more productive then ranting on a blog. Here is the number in case you feel compelled to call, 310-285-1012.

  6. A suite should be brought against BHPD and then another against the driver when Brandon gets that information BACK. Just absurd. AT this would be a good starting point for you new non-profit. Get after them and don’t let up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take these fuckers to court! You have every goddamn right Brandon.

  7. That story is fucking unbelievable. Let that happen to a member of a cops family and I am sure the outcome would have been far different. I’ll bet the driver is more influential than the average driver and was given undue leniency.

    As far as I know, it is clearly a hit and run and a violation of the vehicle code. Isn’t the criteria for reporting an accident (and not driving off) supposed to be injuries and $500 damage? That is why it is absolutely critical to force the responding cop to write a report with all the pertinent data. Then, the driver, and/or the vehicle being driven, which MUST be insured, can face the consequences of criminal and civil action. And, if there are witnesses, get their name, telephone number and pertinent data. I was almost run off the road by a Big Blue Bus (I had the route, location and time), but they claimed that I should have gotten the bus number. Clever way of avoiding the consequences.

    In the last three years I have witnessed several vehicle accidents and have always given my telephone number to the person not responsible for the accident. In each instance, I gave phone depositions.

    Safe riding!

  8. What Triple Steve said…

    And this is only one side of the story.
    The registered owner could have the driver or the driver borrowed the car. No suspect ID’ed, no one to charge. Perhaps the car should be arrested…

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